Inns of Court

Helaine Barnett

Helaine M. Barnett presented the William Reece Smith Jr. Distinguished Lecture. Click image for high-resolution version.

Stetson University College of Law honored John R. Blue with its 2011 Wm. Reece Smith Jr. Public Service Award at its annual Inns of Court Banquet in St. Petersburg on Jan. 25. Helaine M. Barnett, who has led numerous legal service programs for the poor, presented the William Reece Smith Jr. Distinguished Lecture at the event. Barnett said the nation’s economic condition is placing greater numbers of Americans at the poverty level without adequate access to justice.

“More and more Americans go to court unrepresented,” said Barnett. “Although some individuals may choose to go to court without counsel, most pro se litigants have no choice.”

Now an attorney at Carlton Fields, Blue is a 1963 Stetson Law alumnus who has served the legal profession for decades as an attorney, a mediator and a judge. As Chief Judge of the Second District Court of Appeal, Blue authored more than 500 appellate opinions. Blue served on The Florida Bar Board of Governors, chaired the Local Bar Liaison Committee, and served as president of the Manatee County Bar Association. In 1983, Blue directed the Division of Florida Community Colleges, overseeing 28 community colleges. He also coordinated a program for the 1983 legislative session on higher education. He served in the U.S. Army from 1954-1956.

Watch Video – 53 sec
Helaine M. Barnett speaks at Inns of Court Banquet.


Barnett is the former president of the non-profit Legal Services Corporation created by Congress. She worked for decades providing legal services in New York, created the Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Family Rights Project, and oversaw the creation of a citywide health law unit. She mobilized the 9/11 Disaster Assistance Initiative and co-chairs New York’s Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services. Barnett is the only legal services lawyer to have held positions in the American Bar Association House of Delegates and ABA Board of Governors and Executive Committee. She was elected to the American Law Institute in 1984 and is past chair of the ABA Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility and a member of the ABA Commission on Governance.

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