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Section History

Click HERE to see photos throughout the years.

History of the Appellate Practice Section:

Highlights and Anecdotes


  • August, 1993:  The Florida Bar’s new appellate section is officially approved as the “Appellate Practice and Advocacy Section.”
    • First Chairperson: Steve Stark.
    • The Section’s initial priorities:  developing membership and CLE offerings.
    • Marking the beginning of the Section in time: During the period when the Section was founded, the 11th Circuit Federal Court opened its Miami location.  Also:
      • Nelson Mandella won the Nobel Peace Prize that year.
      • The Waco siege of Branch Davidian took place.
      • The first World Trade Center bombing occurred.
      • Ruth Bader Ginsberg was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
      • Midway Airlines commenced operations, remember it?
      • DOS was still many people’s operating system of choice.
      • We did not know what a DVD was.
      • Some magazines that started circulation that year included Chic, Bite, and Your Garden.
      • Jurassic Park was the top grossing movie, many of us saw Mrs. Doubtfire and Jerry Seinfeld saw Schindler’s List that year (or parts of it).
      • People lost to us that year:  Audrey Hepburn, Arthur Ashe, Johnny Mize, Conway Twitty, and Bill Bixby.
      • The most popular song that year was “A Whole New World,” sung by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle.
      • Lyle Levitt and Julia Roberts married.
      • Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger married.
      • Beavis and Butthead debuted.
      • The Chevy Chase show debuted (and desisted).
      • The world’s population was approximately 5.522 billion people. It has since increased by nearly another billion. (It is unknown the extent to which the Appellate Practice and Advocacy Section has been instrumental in that growth).
  • August, 1993:  it was announced that board certification in appellate practice would become available as of June 1, 1994.
  • September 9, 1993 – First meeting of the Executive Council.
    • First slate of officers:
      • Chair – Steven E. Stark, Miami
      • Chair-Elect – Anthony Charles Musto, Fort Lauderdale
      • Vice-Chair – Stacey DeLayne Blank, Tampa
      • Secretary – Steven Mark Goldsmith, Miami
      • Treasurer – Lucinda Ann Hofmann, Miami
  • October 7, 1993 – Jackie Werndli becomes the permanent staff liaison/coordinator to the Appellate Section from The Florida Bar.
  • December, 1993 – First issue of The Record was published.  The first Editor of The Record was Christopher Kurzner, now an attorney in Dallas.  The name of the publication was coined by Suzanne Heller, staff attorney at the 5th District Court of Appeal.


  • January, 1994:  The Executive Council discusses and proposes to seek Executive Council membership for a judge from each of the District Courts of Appeal.  The Council also discussed the concept of an annual reception to honor Supreme Court justices with dessert and coffee (the roots of the Dessert Reception).
  • March, 1994:  The Record publishes the first in its ongoing series, Inside the District Courts of Appeal, covering the First DCA.  Later, all DCAs and the Florida Supreme Court would be covered by the series.
  • March 9, 1994:  The first appellate certification examination is held by The Florida Bar.
  • June, 1994: 46 (out of 65) examinees pass the initial Appellate Practice Board Certification Examination and become board certified in Appellate Practice.


  • June 22, 1995:  the Supreme Court Justices appear at the End-of-Year Meeting for a one-hour question and answer session.
  • June 22, 1995:  the first Dessert Reception is held at the End-of-Year Meeting in Orlando.
    • At the Dessert Reception, the First Annual James C. Adkins Award is made posthumously to Justice Adkins, who passed away in 1994.
  • June 22, 1995:  at the end of the Executive Council meeting, Tony Musto takes over as Chair of the Section.
    • Other officers: 
      • Chair-elect - Tom Elligett, Tampa
      • Vice-chair - Chris Kurzner, Miami
      • Secretary - Cindy Hofmann, Miami
      • Treasurer - Roy Wasson
  • December, 1995: The Section introduces its plan to have an annual Appellate Practice guide.


  • February 16, 1996: The Section holds its first Appellate Practice Certification Exam Review Course (in Orlando).
  • June, 1996:  Tom Elligett becomes Chair of the Section.  The other officers were: 
    • Chair-elect - Chris Kurzner
    • Vice-Chair - Roy Wasson
    • Secretary - Cindy Hofmann
    • Treasurer - Ben Kuhne
  • October, 1996:  As a portent of things to come, in an article entitled “The Case of the Defamed Stripper,” Section member Robert Glazier advocates that appellate lawyers should be “on the internet.”  Glazier even provided the A-B-C’s of how to set up a website.


  • June, 1997: Chris Kurzner becomes the Chair of the Section.  Other officers were: 
    • Chair-Elect - Roy D. Wasson, Miami
    • Vice-Chair - Cindy Hofmann, Miami
    • Secretary - Ben Kuehne, Miami
    • Treasurer - Hala Sandridge, Tampa
  • By June, 1997, Appellate Section membership was approaching 1,000.
  • December 3, 1997:  The Section’s first installment of its flagship seminar, Hot Topics in Appellate Practice, takes place.  The Seminar gets off to a very good start, with attendance of approximately 130 people, somewhat better than expected.
    • At the same time, through the leadership of Tom Hall and the development of a joint relationship with Stetson University, the Section plans its first Appellate Practice Workshop (the now well-known learning-by-doing seminar) for July, 1998.


  • June, 1998: Roy Wasson becomes Chair of the Section. The other officers were:
    • Chair-Elect - Cindy Hofmann
    • Vice-Chair - Ben Kuehne
    • Secretary - Hala Sandridge
    • Treasurer - Angela Flowers
  • July 22-25, 1998: The Section holds the first Appellate Skills Workshop.  The faculty included current and former District Court of Appeal Judges and a former Supreme Court Justice, together with at least one appellate law professor.
  • September, 1998:  The Section issues a survey to solicit feedback on whether the name of the Section should be shortened.


  • March, 1999: Austin Newberry becomes the new Florida Bar Program Administrator for the Section.
  • March, 1999:  Roy Wasson’s, article entitled “We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!” celebrated the impact that the Section has had on the advancement of appellate practice as a specialty in Florida.
  • June, 1999: The Section reports that it is close to embarking on its new internet venture – establishing a website for the Section.
  • June, 1999: The Section membership votes to shorten the name of the Section to the Appellate Practice Section.  (Regardless, all agree that the Section continues to recognize -- and even advocate -- advocacy).
  • June, 1999: Cindy Hofmann becomes Chair of the Section.  Other officers were: 
    • Chair-Elect - Ben Kuehne
    • Vice-Chair - Hala Sandridge
    • Secretary - Angela Flowers
    • Treasurer - Jack Aiello
  • July, 1999: The second Appellate Practice Workshop is held at Stetson University.
  • September, 1999:  Assisted by the sponsorship of the Section, together with Mike Richmond, Law Professor at Nova Southeastern University, the Southeast Regional Moot Court Competition was scheduled to take place in Florida for the first time in November, 1999.
  • September, 1999:  The Section announces that it will hold its first retreat, aimed at long-term Section planning, in April, 2000 at Hutchinson Island (near Stuart, Florida).
  • October 14, 1999: Section holds its first seminar in collaboration with the Trial Lawyers Section to thereafter be held every other year, alternating with the flagship Hot Topics seminar.  The first installment of the co-sponsored seminar was entitled, “What Do You Mean I Didn’t Preserve the Issue?:  What Every Trial Lawyer Needs to Know About Preservation of Error and Appeal.”
  • December, 1999:  Membership of the Appellate Section was 1,054.
  • December, 1999:  The Section announces that it has established its website at http://www.flabarappellate.org.


  • April, 2000:  The Section holds its first retreat, hammering out its mission statement and shaping its goals and plans for the next several years.
  • June, 2000:  Ben Kuehne becomes the Chair of the Section.  The other officers were:
    • Chair-Elect - Hala Sandridge
    • Vice-Chair - Angela Flowers
    • Secretary -  Jack Aiello
    • Treasurer - Raul Cantero, III
  • Fall-Winter, 2000:  Multiple articles in The Record discuss the important role of appellate practitioners and many Section members in the recent presidential election disputes.


  • Spring, 2001:  The Chair’s Message in The Record exhorted appellate practitioners to contact their local legislators to oppose proposed judicial reforms that would threaten the independence of the judiciary.
  • June, 2001:  Hala Sandridge becomes the Chair of the Section.  The other officers were:
    • Chair-Elect - Angela Flowers
    • Vice-Chair - Jack Aiello
    • Secretary - Raoul Cantero, III
    • Treasurer - Thomas Hall
  • June 21, 2001:  Judge Rosemary Barkett chosen as 2001 recipient of James C. Adkins Award.
  • Winter, 2001:  An article in The Record discussed the National Appellate Bench/Bar Conference that convened in New York not long after 9-11.  Cindy Hofmann, former Chair of the Appellate Practice Section, was elected Chair-Elect of the Council of Appellate Lawyers, and Siobhan Shea, then the co-editor of The Record, was voted to serve on the Executive Board of that same body.  (The Council of Appellate Lawyers was the newly-chartered appellate lawyers’ division of the American Bar Association.)


  • June 20, 2002:  Angela Flowers becomes the Chair of the Section.  The other officers were:
    • Chair-Elect – Jack Aiello
    • Vice-Chair – Thomas Hall
    • Secretary – John Crabtree
    • Treasurer – Susan Fox
  • June 20, 2002:  Second District Court of Appeal Judge Chris Alternbernd was awarded the James C. Adkins Award at the Dessert Reception at the 2002 Annual Meeting.
  • July 10, 2002:  The Section was down one officer in a rather grand way as previous vice-chair Raoul Cantero, III was appointed by Governor Bush as the newest justice of the Supreme Court of Florida, filling the seat left by the retirement of Justice Major Harding.
  • Summer, 2002:  The Record proudly reprinted Judge Alternbernd’s enumeration of the 16 steps to an effective brief entitled, “Brief Writing: True Confessions of  a Legal Grease Monkey.”
  • Summer, 2002:  The Section announced its ambitious plan to create  the Pro Se Appellate Handbook, designed to help pro se litigants understand what they need to do to obtain appellate court review of a trial court decision.


  • Spring, 2003:  The Supreme Court of Florida requests the Appellate Practice Section to comment on various matters relating to electronic filing, as the Court continued to plan for future expansion of the use of computer technology in the court system.
  • Spring, 2003:  The Section proposed revisions to the Section’s Bylaws to better solidify the presence of the Section’s website and provide for the website’s development and maintenance.
  • May 1, 2003:  The Section held its second retreat, this one at Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa.  David Freeman of Whetstone Consulting (who is also a lawyer), served as facilitator and led the Section through initiatives suggested by the Section’s mission statement.  Hala Sandridge, together with Bar liaison, Austin Newberry, worked hard to assure the success of the event.  The Section announced that its next retreat would take place in 2006.
  • June 26, 2003:  Jack Aiello becomes the Chair of the Section.  The other officers were:
    • Chair-elect – John Crabtree
    • Vice-chair – Thomas Hall
    • Secretary – Susan Fox
    • Treasurer – Honorable Patricia Kelly
  • June 26, 2003:  Former Third District Court of Appeal Judge and long-time appellate practitioner, Dan Pearson, is awarded the Section’s Adkins Award.  Siobhan Shea receives the Section’s Pro Bono Award.
  • Fall, 2003:  The Section Chair reports on the state of the Section in the Fall, 2003 edition of The Record, actually concluding that one of the most significant goals for the coming year should be to stem the “defection of the confections” at the Dessert Reception.  By this time, the Dessert Reception had become such a successful and high profile event for the Section and for the End-of-Year Bar meetings in general that dessert shortages, caused in significant part by marauding interlopers, threatened the event.
  • Fall, 2003:  The Sections’ mentoring program commenced and was accessible from the Section’s website.
  • December, 2003:  Guided by the efforts of Dorothy Easley and others, The Section’s website really hits its stride as more substantive and current content is added and as regular blast e-mails to all Section members are offered.


  • February 20, 2004:  The Section is represented by both the attendance of the Section Chair and the Section’s financial contribution as the Second DCA opens its new court facility within the Tampa Law Center.  Also, the Section begins holding its series of monthly appellate telephonic lunch seminars.
  • June, 2004:  John Crabtree becomes the Chair of the Section.  The other officers were:
    • Chair-elect – Thomas Hall
    • Vice-chair – Susan Fox
    • Secretary – Steven Brannock
    • Treasurer – Siobhan Shea
  • June 24, 2004:  The Section presents the 2004 Adkins Award to Arthur England and the Pro Bono Award jointly to Stephen Hanlon and Susan Kelsey.  Those awards were made at the annual Dessert Reception which, thankfully, featured ample treats (in New Orleans style, no less) as the Section celebrated its 10th Anniversary.
  • Fall, 2004:  Section Chair John Crabtree announces that his theme for the year is “focus,” a focus on who we are and what we do.  The Section, in pursuit of that theme, distributes a survey to its members for the guidance of future goals and initiatives.  The survey was, in addition to being e-mailed, reprinted in full in the Winter 2005 issue of The Record.


  • Spring, 2005:  The spring 2005 issue of The Record reports the results of the Section’s appellate practice survey.
  • June 23, 2005:  Thomas Hall becomes Chair of the Section.  The other officers were:
    • Chair-elect – Susan Fox
    • Vice-chair – Steven Brannock
    • Secretary – Siobhan Shea
    • Treasurer – Dorothy Easley
  • June 23, 2005:  For the first time, the finals of the Robert Orseck Moot Court Competition are held in conjunction with the discussion with the Florida Supreme Court at the End-of-Year Bar Meeting.  As the audience of practitioners and other observers wait, the justices and judges presiding over the competition return their decision in a few minutes, to the envy of every appellate practitioner in the room.  Later that evening, at the Dessert Reception, the James C. Adkins Award is given to Sylvia Walbolt, and the Pro Bono Award is given to John Mills.
  • July 20, 2005:  The Section once again presents its appellate practice workshop in conjunction with the Stetson College of Law.
  • September, 2005:  In conjunction with the General Meeting of The Florida Bar and the Appellate Section in Tampa, Steve and Carol Brannock graciously host the first dining extravaganza at their “ranch,” which is theoretically located somewhere within driving distance of the Tampa bar meetings site.  It was a great event for those Section members who attended and led to pleas for an encore.


  • Winter, 2006:  The Section prepares for its third Section Retreat, with the intention of pondering such issues as whether the leadership track for the Section should be modified and what additional content should be offered by the website.
  • May 12, 2006:  The Section’s third retreat begins at Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort and results in the clear identification of priorities for the next several years.  After the social dinner at the retreat, it also features what is fast becoming an appellate section staple, crooning and jamming appellate practitioners in best voice, picking away at the strings of their beloved wooden friends and commiserating about American Idol’s age limit.
  • June 21, 2006:  Through a collaborative effort with Chief Judge Charles Kahn (1st DCA), and especially through the great efforts of Section member Celene Humphries, the first annual Appellate Justice Conference takes place at the site of the Florida Bar End-of-Year Meetings in Boca Raton.  More than 60 judges and practitioners gather to discuss the topic for the first annual conference:  the roles served by the District Court opinion as well as different appellate opinion formats for achieving a particular purpose.  Based upon the success of the conference, it is resolved to attempt to make it an annual event.
  • June 22, 2006:  Susan Fox becomes Chair of the Section.  The other officers were:
    • Chair-elect – Steven Brannock
    • Vice-chair – Siobhan Shea
    • Secretary – Dorothy Easley
    • Treasurer – Matthew Conigliaro
  • June 22, 2006:  The 2006 Adkins award is presented to Tom Elligett, and the Pro Bono Award is presented to Alan Mishael.  The theme of the annual Dessert Reception was rock n’ roll, with each attendee donning a name tag of a current or former rock n’ roll legend and, in most cases, willingly suffering through the evening in appropriate head gear.
  • September 14, 2006:  The Brannocks graciously host the second Appellate Practice Section Dinner at their ranch, followed by sightings of various practitioners on the piano and guitars into the wee hours.  As in 2005, pleas for another encore ensue.