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Judges Fay, King receive Medal of Honor Award for a Lawyer

The Honorable Peter T. Fay and the Honorable James Lawrence King have received The Florida Bar Foundation’s 2020 Medal of Honor Award for a Lawyer, the Foundation’s highest honor.

Fay, a senior U.S. circuit judge of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and King, a senior judge for the Southern District of Florida, were honored as co-recipients of this year’s Medal of Honor for a Lawyer. They were selected for their extreme professionalism, dedication to the judiciary, nonstop work ethic, and devotion to justice during a combined 100 years of judicial service.

“Both judges have exemplified the highest ideals and aspirations of our profession,” wrote Paul C. Huck, a district judge for the Southern District of Florida, in his joint nomination of Fay and King. “For decades, each has devoted his professional life to service to the public, and the law profession in particular, to improve the administration of justice, and to advance the aspirational goals of our profession. I cannot think of two human beings, not to mention judges, who are more deserving of this award.”

Fay and King followed similar life paths on their way to the judiciary. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Fay earned his juris doctorate from the University of Florida in 1956. He worked as a trial lawyer in Miami until 1970. King also graduated from the University of Florida’s law school and served as a Judge Advocate Officer (JAG) in the Air Force from 1953 to 1955. He then went on to work in private practice in Miami.

Judge Fay and Judge King took the Oath of Office as United States District Judges in a joint investiture ceremony on October 30, 1970.

Fay is the namesake of the Peter T. Fay Inn of Court at St. Thomas University School of Law and of the Peter T. Fay Jurist-in-Residence Program at the University of Florida, which brings judges to the law school annually for three to five days of classroom visits and informal discussions about the judicial process. He has served on the 11th Circuit Standing Education Committee as its chairman, on the Judicial Advisory Committee on the Codes of Conduct, and on multiple boards of directors and trustees.

King was honored in 1996 when the U.S. Courthouse in Miami was renamed the James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building. He has authored more than 1,020 reported decisions and sentenced more than 6,200 individuals in criminal cases. He has served as the chairman of the Implementation Committee on Admission of Attorneys to Federal Practice, as president of the 5th Circuit Judges Association and on many other committees.

“Judge Fay and Judge King have long been among the major foundations of South Florida’s legal profession,” wrote Alan T. Dimond and Stephen N. Zack, past presidents of The Florida Bar, in a letter of recommendation for Fay and King. “[They] have each been, and remain, South Florida’s ‘gold standard of judicial excellence’. Both have handled the most difficult and sensitive cases to come before our federal courts with brilliance and elegance.”

Judge Fay’s honors include The Florida Bar’s William M. Hoeveler Judicial Professionalism Award and the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the 11th Circuit. Judge King’s honors include the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award and an honorary Doctor of Humanities from St. Thomas University.

The Medal of Honor Awards are sponsored by Florida Mutual Lawyers Insurance Company.