My Reflection on the Life and Legacy of Hon. William Terrell Hodges
By: Hon. Elizabeth A. Kovachevich, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
It is with great sadness, but also with great joy, that I reflect on the life and legacy of my friend, Judge Hodges.
I had the pleasure of knowing Judge Hodges for nearly 50 years. We were first introduced when I served as a Judge in Pinellas County in the 1970s. I was presiding over a high-profile trial and one of the parties attempted to remove the case to federal court. Judge Hodges called me in my Chambers during the evening recess to let me know that his Court was aware of our pending trial and that they would resolve the removal proceeding as quickly as possible. Judge Hodges could not have been more respectful and courteous towards our Court and jurors. I later came to learn that this is exactly how Judge Hodges approached all facets of his life and profession: with compassion, diligence, and respect.
Several years later, after President Reagan appointed me to the U.S. District Court, Judge Hodges became one of my earliest and most influential judicial mentors. Those who practiced in our Court during the 1970s and 1980s know how different that era was compared to today. Judge Hodges could not have been more welcoming or respectful towards me or my staff. On his own initiative, Judge Hodges took me to lunch nearly every week and made sure that I felt welcomed on the bench. When I had a question or a problem, I knew that Judge Hodges was only a phone call or a short walk away. Whatever the issue, I always knew I could count on Judge Hodges.
As time marched on, I witnessed Judge Hodges display the same compassion and self-sacrifice towards my fellow judges. Judge Hodges ended his tenure as Chief Judge early to enable more of his colleagues to serve in that important role. In so doing, Judge Hodges helped to amplify and elevate the careers of countless Judges on our Court. As future generations of Judges, myself included, were elevated to higher positions within the Court, we looked to the example set by Judge Hodges for inspiration and guidance. Even today, I often ask myself how Judge Hodges would respond when confronted with a difficult question. I know many of my colleagues do as well.
Simply put, Judge Hodges’ legacy on our Court is without parallel. Judge Hodges, you were both a friend and a colleague, and will be dearly missed.