On Wednesday, March 18, 2015, St. Thomas University School of Law welcomed more than 100 judges, attorneys, legal scholars, alumni(ae), and friends for an event honoring Judge William M. Hoeveler and announcing the selection of St. Thomas University School of Law as the repository for Judge Hoeveler’s judicial papers.
The St. Thomas University School of Law’s Alex Hanna Legal Information Center will serve as home to Judge Hoeveler’s case-related documents and correspondence, distinct from the official court record of his cases. The collection includes his personal anecdotes, exchanges with attorneys, and notes that may serve to document Judge Hoeveler’s career and give unique insight into the process of his judicial deliberation through many of the cases over which he presided. These documents can bring judicial history alive for law students, legal scholars, and the general public alike in a way that textbooks may not. In addition to the papers, the law school will house memorabilia that include courtroom sketches from the Manuel Noriega trial, the Pontifical Medal Benemerenti bestowed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, personal photographs, and even Judge Hoeveler’s famous briefcase.
The announcement ceremony, held in the Law School’s Moot Court Room, began with a welcome from St. Thomas University President, Monsignor Franklyn Casale. After thanking Judge Hoeveler for his distinguished service on the bench, Monsignor Casale expressed his gratitude and pride that the law library was selected as the repository. He also spoke of his admiration for Judge Hoeveler and the impact he has had on the law both locally and nationally. He noted the papers will join those of the late U.S. District Judge C. Clyde Atkins whose judicial papers also are housed at St. Thomas University.
Dean Alfredo García delivered remarks that highlighted Judge Hoeveler as a legal giant in the south Florida community who was fair, humble, patient, joyful, deeply religious, and courageous. The Dean expanded by sharing details of how Judge Hoeveler conducted himself in what was probably the most high-profile case over which he presided: the Manuel Noriega trial. “The Noriega trial is the prism through which we can view the career of the most respected jurist in South Florida,” stated Dean García. “The case was complex: There were more than 250 pretrial pleadings, motions, responses, memorandums, and court orders. The trial lasted a few months. Amidst all of this, Judge Hoeveler demonstrated remarkable patience, legal understanding, and, above all, fairness.” Dean García noted that after the trial, and during Noriega’s sentencing speech, Noriega rebuked the U.S. government but praised Judge Hoeveler – a testament to the character of the judge and the man.
Senior United States District Judge Donald Graham was called on to make a special presentation to Judge Hoeveler. In his remarks, Judge Graham described Judge Hoeveler as “an incredible man, an incredible judge, an incredible friend, and an incredible servant to the country as a Marine.” Judge Graham presented a brass dedication plaque to Judge Hoeveler on behalf of the judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida and members of the bar. The plaque reads in part:
“In grateful appreciation for his lifelong commitment to the legal profession to ensure that justice and equality are guaranteed for all people. Judge Hoeveler’s exemplary service to the federal court has been an inspiration to generations of attorneys. He is a legal legend – the epitome of professionalism and ethics…we honor his legacy.”
Judge Hoeveler also was presented with a book entitled Judge William M. Hoeveler: A Humble Judicial Hero. The book is a published collection of reflections and anecdotes from more than 80 contributors who know him either personally or professionally. As Dean García stated, the book “memorializes all the character traits that define Bill Hoeveler.”
The ceremony was followed by a wine and cheese reception and tour of St. Thomas Law’s Alex Hanna Legal Information Center where attendees were given the opportunity to view Judge Hoeveler’s memorabilia and personally greet the guest of honor.
Judge William M. Hoeveler was born in France in 1922 and attended high school in Havertown, Pennsylvania. He began college at Temple University but left when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He served in the armed forces from 1942 to 1946, and after leaving the Marine Corps, enrolled at Bucknell University. He graduated from Harvard Law School with an LL.B. in 1950 and entered private practice in Miami from 1951 to 1977. He was nominated to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter and assumed senior status in 1991. Judge Hoeveler gained a reputation as a hero to environmentalists and an opponent of Florida's sugar industry during his time on the bench. In addition to the high-profile trial of Manuel Noriega, he presided over many of the hearings in the Elián González case. He officially retired in 2014.
Pictured –(seated) Judge William Hoeveler (Standing L-R) Senior United States District Judge Paul Huck, St. Thomas Law Dean Alfredo Garcia, St. Thomas University President Monsignor Franklyn Casale, Senior United States District Judge Donald Graham
Guests viewing Judge Hoeveler’s memorabilia display in the St. Thomas University Law Library