Byline: JESSIE-LYNNE KERR
"Liberty and Justice for All," an exhibit detailing more than a half-dozen of the most significant legal cases decided in Jacksonville federal courts, opened Friday at the Bryan Simpson District Courthouse facing Hemming Plaza.
Another part of the exhibit details the role of the U.S. courts.
Philip A. Buhler, a Jacksonville lawyer who is president of the Historical Society of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, said the exhibits are the result of five years of planning.
"Jacksonville is the first of each courthouse in the Middle District to have an exhibit," Buhler said.
The federal courthouses in Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers and Ocala will follow suit, featuring exhibits of important cases decided in those courts.
The Historical Society was organized in 2005 to plan for the 50th anniversary of the Middle District in 2012, when the society hopes to publish a history book, Buhler said.
Jacksonville's first federal courthouse opened in 1895 at Forsyth and Hogan streets and survived the Great Fire of 1901. It was replaced in 1933 by another federal courthouse and post office at Monroe and Julia streets. The current federal courthouse opened in 2003.
Until the Middle District was created by Congress in 1962 because of the unprecedented growth in Florida, Jacksonville had been part of the federal court system's Southern District of Florida.
"We want more artifacts," Buhler told an audience of court officials and attorneys, suggesting the latter empty out office files of old cases and donate important decisions.
Exhibit highlights include:
- The Duval County public school desegregation case that stretched on for decades.
- The conviction of Carlos Lehder Rivas, a principal of the Medillin Drug Cartel.
- A case of a conscientious objector to avoid the military draft.
- The bankruptcy case of Winn-Dixie Stores.
- Litigation over the Cross Florida Barge Canal that weighed a U. …