The Docket November 2020 - Page 13


John Patterson , SCBA President 1982 – 1983

By EDWIN FORD , Esq . Edwin L . Ford , P . A .

It ’ s hard to believe that 38 years ago

John Patterson began his term as president of the Sarasota County Bar Association . In a recent interview , John recalled that there were only about 150 lawyers in Sarasota at that time . Almost all the lawyers were members of the SCBA ; it was just the thing to do . There was a “ certain intimacy ” involved with being a lawyer in Sarasota and a member of the SCBA ; the atmosphere was a bit more cordial .
There were only a few women lawyers . Anne Stinnett , Evelyn Gobbie , Joan Bradbury Kayser came to John ’ s mind . Layon Robinson was the only black lawyer in the Twelfth Judicial Circuit that John could recall .
The Office of the Public Defender had only a handful of lawyers and the State Attorney ’ s office had only a few assistant State Attorneys .
Bar meetings were held at the old Plaza Restaurant which has long since been demolished . When the Plaza closed , meetings were moved to Zinn ’ s restaurant on Tamiami Trail . Approximately 110 to 115 lawyers attended the meetings . Patterson wrote , “ Attendance at the meetings of the membership peaked in the mid-1980 ’ s and have never been the same since , both in terms of the percentage of the membership that attends and in terms of the absolute numbers .”
As for the nature of the SCBA meetings , John opined that the SCBA has always been “ the focal points for lawyers of interests in specific fields to get together for learning and socialization .” Specifically , he recalled a good presentation on the McNaughton Rule years ago . “ Bar meetings of the general membership used to sponsor debates of political candidates .” He specifically noted the candidacy of Connie Mack for the United States House of Representatives . Candidate Mack ( who was opposed by Jim Gardner and possibly Ted Ewing ) won .
John Patterson ’ s immediate predecessor as president of the Sarasota County Bar Association was Art Ginsburg who , when he learned that certain venues were discriminatory , made a point of seeking out non-discriminatory locations in which to hold future SCBA meetings . Sara Bay Country Club was chosen .
John recalls that Hattie Murphy was the intake person for legal aid which was run by the SCBA . She had an office in the basement of the historic courthouse . Federally funded legal aid commenced in the 1970s .

When asked to identify what he was most proud to have accomplished during his term of office , he responded “ The resolution of the long-standing disputes between the federally funded legal aid organization ( which I believe was Gulf Coast Legal Services , Inc .) and the SCBA-sponsored legal aid program through the formation of the Sarasota-Manatee Lawyer Referral Service , Inc ., organized in October 1982 . It was a success and lasted until for-profit lawyer referral services were allowed to enter the market . Legal Aid of Manasota , Inc . is the successor organization .”

When asked whether there were any changes he would like to see the SCBA institute , John responded that he hasn ’ t “ been sufficiently involved in recent years to make any constructive suggestions for change .
Above and left , John Patterson then and now .
The SCBA appears to be very well run , and the programs of the Real Estate Section ” which he tries to attend regularly , “ are well done and informative .”
When asked what would entice him to become more involved in SCBA activities he said , “ There are many good speakers in the legal field . They range from lawyers to those who deal with topics of interest to lawyers . Two of the best speakers I ’ ve heard recently ( say , last 5 years ) have been Bryan Stevenson ( Just Mercy ) and Gilbert King ( Devil in the Grove ). Perhaps the SCBA could consider having a major speaker every two years .”
When asked to recall any memorable characters from the past , John pointed to Jim McDonald , who never owned a car . Jim rode his bicycle everywhere and was known to cart off steaks from the SCBA picnic in the basket of his bike . The organizers knew this and would purchase extra steaks so that Jim could purloin them .
John recalled going to Tampa for a seminar . He drove up U . S . 301 to the Sunshine Skyway bridge and noticed a man hitch hiking . Sure enough , it was Jim McDonald going to the same seminar . So , John turned around and gave him a ride to the seminar and back . And then there was William “ Buzz ” Cardozo . . .
John Patterson is now a partner in Shutts & Bowen , LLP , which has six lawyers in its Sarasota office . He has practiced law for fifty-one years .
The Docket · November 2020 13