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Postponed until further notice: April Speaker Series on Jacksonville’s first black lawyer

Due to health and life safety concerns with large gatherings during this time of COVID-19 crisis, the April 23 program has been cancelled at this time.

Judge Brian Davis

The Jacksonville Historical Society Speaker Series program shines a spotlight on the people and events that have shaped Jacksonville’s past.

The Honorable Brian J. Davis, a United States District Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, will share the history of Joseph E. Lee, the first African American to practice law in Jacksonville, having been admitted to the Florida Bar in 1873.

Judge Davis was appointed by President Barack Obama on Dec. 26, 2013 to serve as a U.S. District Court Judge. Previously a state Circuit Court judge, Davis served on the civil, family, juvenile and probate benches in the Historic Courthouse on Amelia Island.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1874, and a juris doctorate in 1980 from the University of Florida, where he served on Law Review, and received Moot Court and Appellate Advocacy Honors.

Davis is well-suited to speak about legal “firsts” among African Americans, having himself served as the first African American Chief Assistant as a prosecutor in the 4th Judicial Circuit’s Sate Attorney’s Office.

He served on the Florida Supreme Court’s Governance Workshop, Civil Jury Instruction, Children’s Court Improvement, Treatment Based Drug Court Steering, and Trial Court Performance and Accountability Committees, and the Florida Bar’s Legal Needs of Children Commission. In 2002, the American Board of Trial Advocates honored Judge Davis as Judge of the Year.

Active in the community, Davis has volunteered with Leadership Jacksonville, NCCJ, Urban League, NAACP, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Jacksonville Community Council, Hubbard House, Help Center, PACE Center for Girls, OneJax, and the Jaguars Foundation. He chaired the Mayor’s 1999 Domestic Violence Task Force, resulting in significant changes in the treatment of domestic violence victims and cases in Duval County. He currently serves as a Community Foundation Trustee, a board member of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, and an executive board member of the North Florida Council, Boy Scouts of America.

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