A Measure Of Justice

A black judge who was removed from the bench in 1889 for allowing an interracial marriage was posthumously reinstated Tuesday by Gov. Jeb Bush.

James Dean was elected Monroe County judge in November 1888, but Gov. Francis Fleming removed him nine months later and refused to reinstate him.

"This happened in a different space and time in our state's history, but irrespective of how long it's taken us to right this wrong, I think it's more than appropriate to do so," Bush said.

Dean's history resurfaced three years ago when attorney Calvin Allen read about the judge and began researching his removal from the bench.

"Justice Dean was a trailblazer," Allen said. "I ask that we not just stop here, that we make this a legacy that sometimes justice can come late, but justice eventually will come. We just have to be steadfast."

Bush learned of the effort in December.

"I got e-mails and thought it was a pretty cool idea and we did the research and it was clear that Judge James Dean was unjustly removed from office," Bush said.

Born in Ocala, Dean graduated at the top of his class from Howard University's law school in 1883. He returned to Florida and began making a name for himself as a lawyer in Key West.

Dean beat out two white opponents to win his seat, but Fleming stripped him of his duties because Dean had allegedly given a black woman, Annie Maloney, a license to marry a white man.

Dean died in Jacksonville at the age of 52. The state auctioned off his law books to pay his debts.


By Brendan Farrington
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