Historical Judges of the 2nd Judicial Circuit
The Constitution of 1868 provided that Circuit Judges' terms were 8 years. The Constitution of 1885 provided " . . . Circuit Judges who shall be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, and whom shall hold their office for six years." Justices of the Supreme Court, County Judges, Justices of the Peace, and Constables were all elected. The office of circuit judge remained an appointed position until 1957, when the Constitution was amended to provide for the newly created District Courts of Appeal and the election of all judges at every level
Our first Second Judicial Circuit Judge was William Archer Cocke of Monticello, 1868-1869. He was followed by Pleasant Woodson White of Quincy, 1869-1878; David Shelby Walker of Tallahassee, 1878-1891; John W. Malone of Quincy, 1891-1915; and E. C. Love of Quincy, 1915-1945. Both Judge Walker and Judge Malone died in Office. In 1927, the Legislature provided for an additional circuit judge and John B. Johnson of Tallahassee, 1927-1940, was selected. In 1940, Leon County Judge W. May Walker was chosen to take the place of Judge Johnson, who had died in office. In 1945, Judge Love retired and Hugh M. Taylor of Quincy, 1945-1976, was selected. Judge Ben C. Willis, 1957-1984, a resident of Tallahassee, who was originally from Quincy, was selected in 1957 to be our third circuit judge. Judge Willis served as our first Chief Judge. In 1957, the legislature created the position of Leon County Juvenile Judge, Rufus O. Jefferson of Tallahassee, was appointed and he served until 1972, when the juvenile court was incorporated into the circuit court. In 1960, Guyte P. McCord Jr. of Tallahassee, was chosen to be the fourth judge and he served as a circuit judge until 1974, when he was appointed to the First District Court of Appeal, where he served from 1974-1983.
The order of appearance in each of the six counties (seven up until 1911) has changed over the years. Calhoun County was part of the Second Judicial Circuit up until 1911. The reason Calhoun County was part of the Second Circuit is that as the circuit judge traveled on the Apalachicola River from the landing at Chattahoochee down to Bristol, Blountstown was just across the river from Bristol. After the stop at Bristol and Blountstown, the judge would head on down river and do his judicial labors in Apalachicola before returning home. The order in which the terms of court for the various counties would start has changed over the years, but in 1892, when the steamboats were running, the statutes provided for the circuit court to start the Spring term in the following order: Liberty, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Wakulla, Jefferson and Leon Counties. The same rotation was used during the Fall term.
Circuit Judges were required to attend to the pending judicial affairs of each county on a regular basis. To ensure that was done, due to the difficult distances between the various counties and the reluctance of some judges to travel, the Constitutions provided that each circuit court would be required to hold court in each county of the circuit at least twice a year, for the Spring and Fall terms. These "Terms of Court" provisions were set forth in all the Florida Constitutions up until the Constitution of 1968, although, as of 2005, they still appear in Chapter 26 of the Florida Statutes. They largely now relate to the term of service of the Grand Jury for each county and have very little to do with judicial scheduling in the individual counties. The Terms of Court for the Second Judicial Circuit provided that the judge would start court for the Spring term in March and in September for the Fall term.