Nimmons, Federal Judge, Dies at 65; Longtime Jurist Also Served in State Courts

Article excerpt

Byline: Jessie-Lynne Kerr, The Times-Union

U.S. District Judge Ralph Wilson Nimmons Jr., who presided in federal and state courts in Florida for 26 of his 40 years as a lawyer, died Monday at his Jacksonville home of liver cancer. He was 65.

Before being appointed to the federal bench in 1991 by the first President Bush, Judge Nimmons served on Florida's First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee from 1983 to 1991 and on the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court bench from 1977 to 1983.

Judge Nimmons was first nominated to a federal judgeship in 1980 by President Carter but the Senate adjourned before his nomination could be confirmed.

Earlier in his career, Judge Nimmons served as an assistant public defender, assistant state attorney and assistant general counsel for Jacksonville, where his boss in all three positions was Ed Austin. He also was a partner in the Jacksonville firm of Ulmer, Murchison, Ashby & Ball.

"I didn't have a better friend in the world and I don't know of anyone who had it together as well as Buddy did," Austin said, referring to the judge by his nickname. "He was an outstanding lawyer and judge and the young lawyers scrambled to get into his courtroom because they knew they could learn so much from him. He loved the law and he was the greatest credit to the profession."

Federal Appeals Court Judge Susan H. Black had a long association with Judge Nimmons, going back to their days as fellow state prosecutors in the early 1970s.

"He helped me prepare my first case for trial," Black recalled, "and he remained a part of my personal and professional life ever since. When you mention his name, I think of a gentleman, a scholar and a man devoted to his family and his faith."

Judge Nimmons, a native of Dallas, attended the University of Texas for two years before transferring early in 1958 to the University of Florida. His parents had moved to Jacksonville when his father took a job at WTLV TV-12. …


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