The Honorable Emiliano Jose “E.J.” Salcines Jr. has been selected as the recipient of The Florida Bar Foundation’s 2021 Medal of Honor Award, the Foundation’s highest honor. Anthony J. Karrat, executive director of Legal Aid Service of Broward County and Legal Aid Service of Collier County, will receive the 2021 Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service Award. The awards will be presented at the Foundation’s Virtual Award Ceremony on June 17.
Hon. Emiliano J. Salcines Jr.
For his trailblazing, diverse career of more than 50 years, and his dedication to the administration of justice, public service, and education, Salcines has been named the 2021 Medal of Honor winner.
“Judge Salcines joined the legal profession to serve the community and that has been his focus over the decades, honoring his parents to ‘haz bien’ – do good, do good deeds, whatever you do, do the right thing,” wrote Hernando Bernal Jr., president of the Tampa Hispanic Bar Association, in the organization’s nomination of Salcines. “He is truly deserving of the Medal of Honor Award.”
Salcines graduated from South Texas College of Law in 1963 and was admitted to the Florida and Texas Bars that year. For the next four years, he served as the Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice for the Middle District of Florida. He then served as the first Hispanic prosecuting attorney in Hillsborough County from 1968 to 1985. There, he created a pilot program to divert first-time nonviolent offenders from the trial court process to a counseling and probation program, which led to the establishment of Florida’s Pre-Trial Intervention program.
He was also appointed as Florida’s first statewide prosecutor and advisor to the first statewide grand jury investigating narcotic smuggling. For 10 years, he served on the State Medical Examiners Commission, and spearheaded two national conferences on forensic sciences.
“During Judge Salcines’ tenure as the elected State Attorney of the 13th Judicial Circuit, he hired the first African American prosecutor, George Edgecomb, who later became a county judge,” wrote Judge Vivian T. Corvo in a letter supporting Salcines’ nomination. “He also hired the first female prosecutor, Gwynn Young, who later went on to become president of The Florida Bar. He hired the first prosecutor with disabilities, well before the ADA was in effect, and made changes to the office to provide wheelchair access. He was a champion for minorities at a time when that was not easy or appreciated.”
From 1974 to 2009, Salcines was a visiting lecturer at Northwestern University’s law school. He received honorary doctor of law degrees from Florida Southern College in 2002 and from Stetson University College of Law in 2008. He has had a close relationship with the University of South Florida since the 1970s, where he educated campus police officers, established the first Latino Community Advisory Committee and raised funds to develop their Latino Student Scholarships.
Salcines is the author of Trial Manual on Predicate Questions, published by the National District Attorneys Association, which is now in its third edition. He co-founded the Tampa Bay American Inn of Court in 1993. He is a member of the 13th Circuit’s Conviction Review Unit’s independent review panel. In 2014, Salcines received the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Anthony J. Karrat
For devoting a lifetime to ensuring the civil legal rights of low-income communities and his strong and steady leadership, professionalism, and integrity leading the charge for those individuals and families who would otherwise have no voice and no access to the judicial system, Karrat will be awarded the Foundation’s 2021 Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service Award.
“Tony is a relentless, tireless advocate for the poor,” wrote former Florida Bar president Jesse H. Diner in a letter supporting Karrat’s nomination. “Unstoppable and compassionate, he has been the face of Legal Aid Service of Broward County for the past 45 years. His life’s work evidences total devotion to improving the lives of so many. Tony’s selfless and unassuming manner belie his depth of dedication to the administration of justice for all.”
Karrat is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the George Washington University Law Center. After three years at Seattle Legal Services, Karrat joined Legal Aid Service of Broward County as a branch office supervising attorney before being named executive director in 1976. Under his direction, the program has grown from a three-attorney office with a $250,000 budget to a regional law firm of 73 attorneys with a budget of $12 million.
In 1981, Karrat worked with the Broward County Bar Association to create Broward Lawyers Care (BLC), a pro bono program administered by Legal Aid Service of Broward County. Since then, more than 5,000 Broward lawyers have donated their time, and more than 19,000 clients and families have received legal assistance. In 2011, the BLC Advice Hotline was established to provide telephone advice and counsel.
Karrat oversaw the merger of his program with a one-attorney legal aid program in Collier County in 1981. Legal Aid Service of Collier County now has 12 lawyers with offices in Naples and Immokalee.
In 2011, faced with an influx of veterans returning from war, Karrat realized that they and their families had substantial needs for legal services in Broward County. Working through the United Way/Mission United Veterans Pro Bono Project and the United Way’s Operation Sacred Trust, more than 9,000 veterans have been served in areas such as family law, eviction, foreclosure, benefits and legal matters surrounding homelessness and rapid rehousing.
In 2020, Karrat was honored by WPLG-ABC Local 10 with the prestigious LIFEtime Award at their My Future, My Choice Annual LIFE Awards.
“Though his achievements have been many over the years, Tony’s single greatest achievement is that he, through his leadership and dedication, has given a voice and legal access to thousands of individuals and families who would otherwise have been silent and without legal remedy,” wrote Legal Aid Service of Broward County’s development director, Melisa Malone, in her nomination of Karrat. “This is Tony’s legacy.”
Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company is the Medal of Honor Award Presenting Sponsor. In light of the ongoing pandemic, the Foundation’s award ceremony will be held virtually. Registration is open now at https://thefloridabarfoundation.org/annual-dinner/.