Judge Joseph Hatchett Dies

Joseph Hatchett, the first Black man on the Florida Supreme Court, has died at 88 years old. 

According to the Miami Herald, Hatchett died in Tallahassee on Friday, April 30. His cause of death was not made public. 

Born in Clearwater, Florida, on Sept. 17, 1932, he graduated from Florida A&M University in 1954 and Howard University School of Law in 1959. 

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In 1966, he was appointed assistant United States attorney for the Middle District of Florida and by 1967 he was the  first assistant United States attorney. In 1971, he was appointed United States magistrate for the Middle District of Florida.

In 1975, Hatchett was appointed to Florida’s highest court by Gov. Reubin Askew.  By 1979, President Jimmy Carter named him to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is recognized by the Florida Supreme Court as “the first African American to serve in a federal circuit that covered the Deep South at the time.”

Hatchett retired by 1999 but continued to work with the NAACP  as “lead attorney in the fight to preserve statewide preference programs for minorities and women in Florida,” the Miami Herald reports.  

Hatchett also holds the distinction of being the first Black-owned law firm to practice in downtown Miami.

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