Lung cancer claims former Chief Justice Alan Sundberg February 15, 2002 Managing Editor Regular News Mark D. Killian Managing EditorFormer Chief Justice Alan Sundberg was remembered by friends and colleagues attending a packed memorial service at the Supreme Court as a man “who walked with kings” yet never forgot the common touch.Sundberg, a member of the Florida State University Board of Trustees and one of the most highly regarded appellate lawyers in the state, died January 26. A Tallahassee resident, he had been undergoing treatment for lung cancer at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. He was 68.Chief Justice Charles Wells said Sundberg was a positive force for the court, the state, and the nation and said his life was dedicated to service to others. Wells also said Sundberg was a very close friend of those serving on the present court, and his counsel and guidance will be missed.Former Attorney General Jim Smith remembered his good friend and law partner as a brilliant Harvard-educated attorney with a down-to-earth manner who throughly enjoyed the outdoors.“Alan could sit up here during the week and do battle with the greatest legal minds in Florida and on the weekends go to the hunting camp or the fishing camp and just be one of the guys,” Smith said.Sundberg was born June 23, 1933, in Jacksonville and graduated from Florida State University in 1955 and Harvard in 1958. He practiced in St. Petersburg for 17 years before Gov. Reubin Askew appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1975. Askew and many others credited him with rebuilding the reputation and image of the court. Sundberg served until 1982 and was chief justice from 1980-82.Probably Justice Sundberg’s most significant opinion was in 1979, a landmark case allowing cameras in state courtrooms. He wrote the opinion that found that having cameras in courtrooms was consistent with the state’s commitment to open government and did not violate defendants’ constitutional rights. After leaving the court, he was a partner in the Carlton Fields law firm in Tallahassee.FSU President Sandy D’Alemberte then brought Sundberg to FSU to serve as the university’s general counsel in 1997. Sundberg returned to private practice in 2000 at the Smith, Ballard & Logan firm in Tallahassee.D’Alemberte said Sundberg gave Florida State great legal advice, “but more than that he was a wise counselor — a lawyer statesman.”“He was tall and jovial and bright; he was large and never intimidating; interested but never invasive; principled but certainly not stuffy; intelligent but not arrogant; humble but not reserved,” D’Alemberte said.Arthur England, who met Sundberg when they both served on the court, remembered him as a man who was “unfailingly kind” to everybody, from the other justices to clerks in the mail room.“He was a man who believed the law was a profession,” England said. “He was a man who was invariably fair to the people who opposed him, just like he was to the people who supported him.” And he possessed a common sense that served him, and the state, well.“Alan loved the intellectual aspects of decision-making as a justice of the Florida Supreme Court and he vigorously applied this intellect in every single thing he did on this court,” England said. “Yet Alan never let the intellectual side of decision-making interfere with his practical common sense.”England said Sundberg could be humble and had a special way of reminding himself that he did not always have all the answers.“With almost every decision this court rendered. . . on the Wednesday before those decision were released. . . he would say to me, ‘How will this play in Perry?’” England recalled. “What he meant by that is: How will this decision be received by the people 50 miles down the street in Perry, Florida? Will it affect their lives? Will it make a difference? Will they even care? And that’s how he worried.”Miami lawyer and longtime Sundberg friend Robert Parks served as Sundberg’s campaign manager for a Supreme Court election in 1976 and remembered an eventful day during the campaign as he was driving Sundberg to the airport in his small sports car.Running late to catch a flight, Parks said the 6-foot-6 justice split his pants “from waist to crotch” when he climbed down into Park’s Datsun 240Z. Not wanting to miss his flight, Sundberg told Parks to “keep driving” as he climbed into the back of the small hatchback to change.“He said, ‘If you don’t get me to the plane on time, your appellate career is history,’” Parks said. To which Parks replied: “If I get stopped going 80 miles an hour with a half-clothed Supreme Court justice in my car, we’re both history.”Sundberg is survived by his wife, Betty Steffens, a lawyer in Tallahassee; his son, William L. Sundberg, also a lawyer in Tallahassee; daughters Allison Lane, La Jolla, Calif.; Angela Estes, Winter Park; and Laura Sundberg, Orlando; a brother, Richard Sundberg of Jacksonville; and eight grandchildren. Another son, Alan Jr., died of skin cancer in 1998.In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Florida Skin Cancer Foundation, 335 Beard St., Tallahassee 32303, or the American Diabetes Association. Lung cancer claims former Chief Justice Alan Sundberg
Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 28, 2019 at 1:33 pm Former Syracuse safety and linebacker Kielan Whitner comes on this week’s podcast to discuss his time at Syracuse, NFL tryouts, what he’s doing after football and more with host Josh Schafer. Whitner played in 47 games for the Orange from 2015-18, totaling 176 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.
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