REMEMBERING A GREAT LAWYER: HAROLD L. "TOM" SEBRING
By Bruce R. Jacob
This book provides a biography of Harold L. "Tom" Sebring. He was one of the most capable and versatile individuals in the history of the State of Florida and the nation.
While at the University of Florida he attended and graduated from its law school. He practiced law in Florida, became a trial judge, then a Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida.
After the Second World War President Truman appointed him to serve as a Judge at Nuremberg for the war crimes trials of members of the Nazi regime. He was a member of the panel of three judges who tried the "medical" case, involving 23 defendants, mostly medical doctors who had conducted experiments on inmates of concentration camps. He and the other two members of the panel wrote an opinion setting out minimum standards for medical experimentation on human beings. Modern medical standards for experimentation on human subjects are based largely on that opinion.
Sebring's reputation in Florida was such that many wanted him to run for Governor and were certain that he would win, but following Nuremberg he returned to the Florida Supreme Court and became its Chief Justice for a term. Then, at the height of his career he resigned from the Court and became Dean of the Stetson University College of Law. Stetson at that time was a small, under-funded, law school, but Sebring built it into a strong institution. Also, while Dean, he was probably the most important member of the Constitutional Revision Commission, which produced Florida's current Constitution.
His leadership skills, his integrity, and incredible ability made him a very significant force in the history and development of the State of Florida from 1921 until his death in 1968. He truly was a unique soldier, athlete, coach, lawyer, judge, and law dean.
Professor Bruce Jacob began his career in 1960 as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida. There he represented the respondent in Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963). Upon leaving that office, he engaged in the private practice of law in Bartow and Lakeland, Florida, in the firm of Holland, Bevis & Smith, now Holland & Knight. Following the completion of his LL.M. degree at Northwestern University, Professor Jacob joined the faculty of Emory University School of Law, where he established the Legal Assistance for Inmates Program at the Atlanta Penitentiary. He was appointed by the Supreme Court as counsel for petitioner in Kaufman v. United States, 394 U.S. 217 (1969). While at the Harvard Law School, he served as a Research Associate in the Center for Criminal Justice, assisted in the establishment of the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project, and supervised the work of law students in the defense of criminal cases and in the representation of indigents in civil matters in the Community Legal Assistance Office, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Professor Jacob subsequently served as Professor and Director of Clinical Programs at The Ohio State University College of Law, as Dean and Professor of the Mercer University School of Law and as Vice President of Stetson University and Dean of Stetson College of Law from 1981 through 1994. He is an author and co-author of articles on Criminal Law and Procedure, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and the Administrative Law of Corrections. While on sabbatical leave during 1994-95, he took courses in the LL.M. program in Taxation at the University of Florida College of Law, and received that LL.M. in 1995. He teaches Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure courses.