Hodges honored for ‘fairness, decency, and knowledge’ November 15, 2003 Regular News Hodges honored for ‘fairness, decency, and knowledge’ William Terrell Hodges, senior judge for the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, recently received the 21st Annual Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award.The Devitt Award annually honors an Article III judge of national stature, whose distinguished lifelong career is characterized by: “Decisions that, through their wisdom, humanity, and commitment to the rule of law, make clear that bench, bar, and community alike would willingly entrust that judge with the most complex cases of the most far-reaching import; writings, including opinions, lectures, or other publications, that reveal scholarship and dedication to the improvement of the judicial process; and activities that have helped to improve the administration of justice, advance the rule of law, reinforce collegial ties within the judicial branch, or strengthen civic ties within local, national, and international communities.”Judge Hodges served as an active judge on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District from 1971 to 1999, and as its chief judge from 1982 to 1989. His impact has been felt at both the state and national level. He was chair of the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States and is currently chair of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. Hodges was a founder and former president of the American Inns of Court, Tampa Chapter; and in 1996, after moving to Jacksonville, he served as president of the Jacksonville Chapter of the American Inns of Court.Judges and lawyers from across the country wrote the Devitt Selection Panel to express their admiration and respect for his work on the bench, administratively, and in public service, uniformly recognizing his fairness, decency, and knowledge of the law, and describing, for example, Judge Hodges’ extraordinary record of such accomplishments as: “.. . in my 60 years of life, I have never known a more decent man or a better role model for the American judiciary. . . (Hodges) has served with continued distinction at every level of government in the federal judiciary, exhibiting extraordinary skill, energy, and leadership.. . It is hard to envision a greater record of accomplishment and service.”“For more than a quarter-century,” read a Tampa Tribune editorial in 1999, “this wise and humble man from Polk County has devoted his life to public service.”The Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award is named for the late Edward J. Devitt, longtime chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. It is administered by the American Judicature Society with funding provided by the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation, Minneapolis. The honor includes an award of $15,000 and is symbolized by an inscribed crystal obelisk.This year’s three-member award selection panel included: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer; Judge Harry Edwards of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit; and Judge Fern Smith, director of the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C., and a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.