B.A. 1969, Florida Southern College
J.D., 1972, University of Miami School of Law
A former Chief Justice and founder of Justice Teaching, Justice R. Fred Lewis was appointed to the Supreme Court of Florida on December 7, 1998, by the late Governor Lawton Chiles. While serving as Chief Justice, he founded Justice Teaching, an organization that now has over 3,900 volunteer lawyers and Judges placed with and active in Florida public schools, which enhances civic and law-related education through the active programs in all levels of Florida schools.
As Chief Justice, he also convened the first commission and statewide all branch mental health summit which developed and proposed a unified and comprehensive plan to address the increasing needs with the intersection of mental illness and the justice system. He also attempted to provide greater public access to justice for the disabled by mandating a survey and audit of all court facilities in Florida through a task force of professionals to identify and remove obstacles to facility access.
While Chief Justice, Justice Lewis also instituted for the first time in Florida, a uniform high-level diversity training program for all Florida judges. Having a background in civil litigation and recognizing the need for better jury instructions in complex cases, he created and appointed the first Standard Jury Instruction Committee for Contract and Business Cases, a group that now finalized comprehensive jury instructions for these complex cases.
Justice Lewis has served as liaison to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners for 13 years where he has led the effort to require higher academic and character standards for applicants to the Florida Bar. He also led the effort to restructure the background fitness analysis process for Chapter 11—Certified Legal Interns. Currently serving as Chair of the Florida Professionalism Commission, his interest in maintaining high standards for all lawyers continues.
Upon graduating from college, Lewis moved to Miami to attend the University of Miami School of Law, where he graduated cum laude in 1972. He was a member of theUniversity of Miami Law Review and was an officer in the Student Bar Association. Selected as a Justice of the Law School Honor Council, Lewis also served on the Appellate Moot Court Teams. He was selected for the Iron Arrow, the highest honor society, and was awarded membership in Bar and Gavel, and Order of Barristers.
Upon graduation from law school, Justice Lewis attended and graduated from the United States Army A.G. School after acting as Commander of the Corps of cadets for the University of Miami ROTC program. He graduated as its top student, receiving the Order of World Wars Superior Achievement Honor. Upon discharge from the military, Lewis entered private practice in Miami, specializing in civil trial and appellate litigation. He left practice upon his appointment to the Florida Supreme Court effective January 1, 1999.
He has served The Florida Bar in the capacity of Inventory Attorney, spending many hours auditing and reviewing files for the protection of clients. He has authored materials published by The Florida Bar's Continuing Legal Education Program and has participated in numerous cases selected for annotation in The American Law Report.
In 2007, Justice Lewis was named Florida Jurist of the Year by the Florida Chapters of the American Board of Trial Advocates and selected for Florida's Children's Cabinet. He also received the ABA 2007 Pursuit of Justice Award, and the Outstanding Citizen Award for 2007 from the Florida Council for Social Studies. In 2008, he received the Judge Mario Goderich Award from Cuban American Bar Association, which recognized his work for diversity. He also received a Resolution by the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services & Technology for his work to provide access for persons with disabilities. Justice Lewis received the Gracias Award 2008 from the Broward County Hispanic Bar on June7, 2008. The Award reads “For achieving monumental Heights in Public Services and Promoting Diversity.
As a member of the Florida Supreme Court, Justice Lewis currently serves as liaison to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners and the Judicial Management Council. He has served on the Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure, the Committee on Standard Civil Jury Instructions, and the Code and Rules of Evidence Committee.
At Miami Law he teaches “Florida Tort Law – The Real Deal.”