Chief Justice Charles T. Wells

first_img Chief Justice Charles T. Wells [Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a series of brief profiles on the justices of the Florida Supreme Court as produced by the Bar’s Public Information and Bar Services Department. These profiles are to let Bar members and others get to know each justice as an individual.] Bar Public Information Coordinator His family is his proudest personal achievement, while his job is his passion. Chief Justice Charles T. Wells feels honored to have led the Florida Supreme Court during a time in history that included so many complex legal issues, not the least being last fall’s presidential election. It’s an experience that he describes as the “most intense six weeks” of his chief justice tenure, “both exhilarating and exhausting.” Being a trial lawyer was Wells’ first professional passion. Because of his civil trial preparation at University of Florida’s College of Law, he felt well armed for trial practice and treasures his trial experience for preparing him for his service as a justice. One of his first mentors as a person and a trial lawyer was his father, Joel Wells, Jr. Both the Chief Justice and his brother, Joel III, went into the practice of law after their father Joel, Jr., and their grandfather, Joel Sr. “My father was my role model in the practice of law,” Chief Justice Wells said. “He was a person who had great integrity and was a gentleman regardless of circumstance.” His other role models include former Justices Stephen H. Grimes and Ben F. Overton. Even after his time as a justice, Wells hopes to return to trial practice. “I thoroughly enjoy the practice,” he says. The Chief Justice first became interested in being on the Supreme Court while serving on The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors from 1994-96. He was intrigued by the administration of the courts, and the timing was right in 1994 with Justice Parker Lee MacDonald retiring. Chief Justice Wells considers the best part of his job to be the opportunity to help develop Florida case law, as well as working with the other branches of government. He expressed his continuing interest in the legislative process and has enjoyed his unique role in the judiciary’s relationship with the legislative branch. Chief Justice Wells only finds a few concerns with his job, including the court’s high caseload and the fiscal issues raised by the impending Article V funding transition in which the state will assume the lion’s share of funding of the court system. “We have to be innovative in what we do to manage the caseload,” Wells said. “The only other downside is the fiscal problems in the court system and the state.” His goal for the next year is to survive the upcoming fiscal transition while “ensuring that the courts continue to operate with quality. . . having cases processed in a fair and efficient manner.” Wells also wants to see the courts try to attract more judges with quality experience as lawyers. Throughout his career, Chief Justice Wells keeps finding one legal truth: “The longer I’m here, the more I understand that [legal problems] all boil down to something that’s not a very complicated proposition, but you’ve got to figure out how to make it not complicated.. . . You’ve got to boil legal problems down to finite issues that you can understand.” Wells said it keeps coming back to “how important it is to understand matters of detail to reach legal conclusions; it’s a matter of real discipline.” When asked what other profession he would like to attempt, the Chief Justice said he would like to be a teacher, especially with his experiences with Supreme Court programs in educating and his lecturing experiences. Although Wells enjoys reading in his leisure time, during the last court recess he found himself busy on the lecture circuit speaking about last year’s presidential election and election issues in general. One notable speaking stop was at Yale Law School. But outside of his day job, Wells said his greatest personal achievement is “my truly wonderful marriage, [to Linda Fischer Wells] for 33 years as of November 29, and my three successful children.” And although he has little free time, Wells stays involved with Trinity Methodist Church, and he enjoys Gator sports. December 1, 2001 Jennifer Krell Davis Regular News Chief Justice Charles T. Wellslast_img

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