Noted by the American Bar Association as a pioneer in Florida law as the first black person appointed to the Florida Supreme Court since Reconstruction, and the first black person ever elected to public office in a statewide election in the South, Joseph W. Hatchett serves as chair emeritus of Akerman’s Appellate Practice and chair emeritus of the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
Immediately prior to joining Akerman, he served as Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (Florida, Georgia, and Alabama). Previous to congressional creation of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, President Jimmy Carter appointed Joseph to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Alabama).
Appointed to the Florida Supreme Court in 1975 by Governor Reuben Askew, he continued to serve on that court after a successful statewide election in 1976. Following a career as a civil rights lawyer in Florida, he served as Chief Assistant United States Attorney and Conscientious Objector Hearing Officer for the U.S. Department of Justice and as a full time U.S. Magistrate Judge, all in the Middle District of Florida.
Joseph served as the Chief Judge of the federal three-judge court that drew the Florida legislative reapportionment plans in 1980 and in 1990. After leaving the bench in 1999, he led the team in both the state and federal litigation related to the legislative reapportionment of 2000. In 2005, given his experience in Florida, the federal three-judge court of Georgia appointed him to aid the court in drawing the redistricting plans for the Georgia House and Senate.
In 2005, the National Bar Association inducted Joseph into its Hall of Fame in recognition of more than 40 years of dedication to the cause of justice and equality before the Courts of the United States of America, and on behalf of the African-American community.
The American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession awarded him the Spirit of Excellence Award, which is presented annually to exceptional lawyers who have made significant contributions to the promotion of racial and ethnic diversity within the legal profession.
- LL.B., Howard University School of Law, 1959, with honors
- B.A., Florida A&M University, Political Science, 1954
Bar Admissions : Florida
Court Admissions :
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia
- U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida
- U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida
- U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
Professional Experience :
- United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, 1981-1999; Chief United States Circuit Judge, 1996-1999
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, United States Circuit Judge, 1979-1981
- Supreme Court of Florida, Justice, 1975-1979
- United States Marine Corps Reserve, Lieutenant Colonel, 1973-1978; Retired, 1988
- Middle District of Florida, United States Magistrate, 1971-1975
- Middle District of Florida, First Assistant United States Attorney, 1968-1971
- Conscientious Objectors, Department of Justice, Special Hearing Officer, 1967-1968
- Middle District of Florida, Assistant United States Attorney, 1966-1968
- United States Marine Corps Reserve, J.A.G. Corps, Retired
- United States Marine Corps Reserve, Judge Advocate Division, Military Judge, Retired
- Judicial Nominating Commission, Florida Northern District, Member
- International Academy of Trial Lawyers, Board of Directors
- The Florida Bar, Member
- American Bar Association, Member
- American Judicature Society, Member
- Federal Magistrate Judges Committee, Member, 1984
- Jacksonville Bar Association, Member
- D.W. Perkins Bar Association, Member
- Advisory Committee on Appellate Rules, Member
- National Bar Association, Member
- National Council of Federal Magistrates, Member
- United Negro College Fund, Volusia County, Co-Chairman, 1962
- Jacksonville Naval Reserve Training Corps, Committee Selection, Member, 1971
- Jacksonville Opportunities Industrialization Center, Board of Directors, 1972-1975
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