FFLA to honor former Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy A. Quince, retired college president Lawrence W. Tyree, and Florida Justice Institute founder Roderick N. Petrey

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Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy A. Quince has been selected to receive FFLA’s 2024 Medal of Honor Award for a Lawyer, and retired college president Lawrence W. Tyree will receive the Medal of Honor Award for a Non-Lawyer. The Medal of Honor is FFLA’s highest honor.  Roderick N. Petrey, founder of the Florida Justice Institute, will receive the 2024 Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service Award.

The Medal of Honor Award, sponsored by Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, is presented each year to a member of The Florida Bar who has demonstrated his or her dedication to the objectives of The Florida Bar as set out in the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar “to inculcate in its members the principles of duty and service to the public, to improve the administration of justice, and to advance the science of jurisprudence.” The Medal of Honor may also be awarded to a member of the public or a lawyer not actively engaged in the practice of law who has made outstanding achievements in improving the administration of justice in Florida.

Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy A. Quince
Quince, who served as Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court from 2008 to 2010, is being honored with the Medal of Honor for a Lawyer for her decades-long legal and judicial career spent in service of the public, her extensive volunteer work on behalf of those less fortunate and her dedication to ensuring the halls of justice are open to all.

Justice Quince

Justice Peggy A. Quince

After graduating from Howard University, Quince earned her law degree from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. While in law school, she volunteered at a local legal aid program. In the early years of her law career, she was a hearing officer with Washington, D.C.’s Rental Accommodations Office, and worked in private practice in Virginia and Bradenton, Fla. She went on to become an assistant attorney general in Tampa, eventually becoming Bureau Chief.

For 13 years, she handled appeals in the Second and Eleventh District Courts of Appeal, the Florida Supreme Court, and the United States Supreme Court.  In 1993, Florida Governor Lawton Chiles appointed Quince to the Second District Court of Appeal, making her the first Black woman appointed to one of the district courts of appeal. Four years later, she was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court, again making history as the state’s first Black female justice. She served on the court until 2019.

“During her tenure on both the Second District Court of Appeal and the Florida Supreme Court, as well as since her retirement, Justice Quince has served the Bar, the bench, and her community with honor and distinction,” said 13th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Katherine Essrig in a letter of support for Quince’s nomination. “She has had the courage and the conviction to speak out on matters of great importance, and she has dedicated her life to ensuring that the halls of justice are open to all and that that there truly is equal access to justice for everyone. I cannot think of a more deserving person to receive this prestigious award.”

While on the Supreme Court, Quince served as the liaison to the Florida Innocence Commission, which studied wrongful convictions. She also led efforts to create a statewide, multidisciplinary Dependency Court Improvement Panel to improve procedures in cases where courts decide whether children may stay with their parents or must be taken into state custody for their own protection. After the housing bubble burst in 2008, Quince created a task force to establish procedures to efficiently handle the effects of mortgage and foreclosure cases in the courts.

By her example, Quince has opened doors for women and minorities to advance in the legal profession. There are now more female judges in Hillsborough County today than male. In addition to her work in making court proceedings fairer for families, children, and people who cannot afford a private attorney, Quince has been a strong advocate, supporter and champion of mentorships for younger people and lawyers. She believes strongly in teaching the basic principles of preparation, professionalism, and civility, and mentorships have been a focal point throughout her career.

“As a retired justice, she has generously given of her time to promote exercising our right to vote, educate our young lawyers and serve on panels reviewing convictions of Florida felons,” wrote 13th Circuit Senior Judge Claudia Rickert Isom in a letter of support for Quince. “I believe Justice Quince truly stands for all that is pure and honorable in our justice system. She serves as an inspiration to aspiring lawyers as she mentors by modeling the difference one person can make. Her legacy will be felt by the citizens of this state as we seek to live a life of grace.”

Since 2019, Quince has served on a panel that reviews DNA evidence and court records in connection with the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit. The panel includes Judge Emiliano “E.J.” Salcines Jr., who nominated Quince for the Medal of Honor, and former appellate judge Chris Altenbernd. To date, they have reviewed more than 400 convictions. Quince has also served as a board member of FFLA, formerly The Florida Bar Foundation, for the past five years.

Quince is the recipient of dozens of awards, including the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award from The Florida Bar’s Government Lawyer Section and the 2003 Outstanding Jurist Alumni Award from Howard University. In 2016, she was inducted into Stetson University College of Law’s Hall of Fame.

“Justice Quince never yielded to the public pressure and tension to win at the expense of professionalism,” said Altenbernd in a letter of support for Quince’s nomination. “Her arguments before the Second District and the Supreme Court were models of professionalism. Virtually her entire career was spent in service of the public. Peggy Quince was obedient to the rule of law. But equally, she was an ordinary, real person who chose to appear at countless public meetings to give people the assurance that the judiciary was their judiciary, and not a court controlled by the elite. Both in her personal and professional life, she has had that rare ability to be a kind and gentle person, who still has the courage and strength to stand up for what she believes is right.”

 Lawrence W. “Larry” Tyree

Lawrence W. “Larry” Tyree, who led nine separate colleges as president or interim president over his career, will receive the 2024 Medal of Honor for a Non-Lawyer for his leadership in and stewarding of others through the higher education system to promote equal justice and his devotion to serving The Florida Bar as a volunteer.

Larry tyree

Lawrence W. Tyree

Tyree was nominated by seven past presidents of The Florida Bar Foundation (now FFLA) – Bruce B. Blackwell, Esq., Connie Bookman, Juliette Lippman, Esq., John Patterson, Esq., Stephen R. Senn, Esq., Hon. Emerson Thompson and Jewel White, Esq.

After completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education at the University of Florida, Tyree earned his doctorate in education from Indiana University. He served in several college administrations before becoming the president of Gulf Coast Community College in 1976, where he remained until 1988. During that time, he was the president of the United Way of Bay County, Fla., the president of the Bay County, Fla. Chamber of Commerce, and the chair of the board of directors of the American Association of Community Colleges.

“The oft-stated goals of our nation’s community college system have resulted in upward mobility and employability for legions of graduates of our high schools,” wrote the past presidents in their nomination of Tyree. “Through Dr. Tyree and those he has led over a lifetime, there have been generations of folks to engage, to build, to serve, and to promote the aspirational goals of equal justice to and for all.”

In 1990, Tyree began an 11-year term as the president of Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla. During that time, he again served the United Way as its Alachua County board president. He was the founding board chair of the Alliance for Economic Development in Alachua County as well. In 1992, Tyree was selected as Florida Association of Community Colleges’ President of the Year.

In the 2000s, Tyree served as interim president at six different community colleges in Kentucky, Kansas, New York, Illinois and Florida. After almost three years as the president of Florida Keys Community College, Tyree became the interim executive director of The Florida Bar Foundation in 2018. His involvement in the legal field started in 2012 when he was appointed to Florida’s 16th Judicial Circuit’s Nominating Commission by then-Governor Rick Scott. He then served on The Florida Bar’s Citizens Advisory Committee from 2013-16 and 2018-19 as its chair. He was also appointed to The Florida Bar Board of Governors by the Florida Supreme Court in 2015.

“In part because of his local, state, and national excellence, his counsel and engagement have been sought out by many corporations, United Ways, universities, and associations. Critical to us, however, he has been a stalwart for the organized Bar, at both local and the state level,” wrote the past presidents. “Several Florida Bar presidents have relied on his counsel. He was awarded the Bar’s President’s Award of Merit. Dr. Tyree showed a deep interest in the work of The Florida Bar Foundation and spent much time becoming engaged in its work and its governance. He championed the Foundation’s work and its mission to serve the underserved through funding legal aid groups throughout Florida.”

Tyree has served on Florida’s Judicial Qualifications Commission as a gubernatorial appointee since 2019. He also currently volunteers for Nemours Children’s Hospital as a ‘cuddler’ of premature babies and babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. He previously volunteered in Nemours’ Pet Therapy Program with Cooper, his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Last year, he was inducted into the American Association of Community Colleges’ Hall of Fame and received the Hero Award from the Florida College System Council of Presidents as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Florida Colleges, an organization he served as Interim CEO for nine months on a pro bono basis.

“Countless underprivileged and underserved segments of our population, including those served both directly and indirectly by The Florida Bar Foundation (now FFLA), have benefited from the skill sets incubated through the lifelong efforts of Dr. Tyree,” wrote the past presidents. “He has personally and corporately stewarded many to make a difference.”

Roderick N. Petrey, Esq.

Petrey will be awarded the Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service Award for his decades-long service to the legal aid community, specifically through his founding of and work for the Florida Justice Institute. He is founder and principal of New Equity Partners and vice president and secretary of the P.L. Dodge Foundation.

Rod Petrey

Roderick N. Petrey, Esq.

The Jane Elizabeth Curren Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual who, over his or her career, has achieved meaningful, effective and lasting increases in access to civil justice for the poor in the State of Florida.

Petrey earned his bachelor’s degree from Yale. A Vietnam combat veteran, Petrey was a captain in the U.S. Army Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets, and a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division. He then went on to earn his law degree from Harvard University.

Petrey worked in consulting and served as the executive vice president of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation in New York City until he became a partner at Holland and Knight in 1977.

In 1978, Petrey founded the Florida Justice Institute (FJI) with the goals of improving the administration of justice for all Floridians, encouraging better representation of citizens’ interests, and increasing the ability of citizens to resolve disputes quickly and inexpensively.

“Rod founded FJI 45 years ago when, as a lawyer and foundation executive, he recognized a critical need for an organization dedicated to bringing civil rights litigation on behalf of society’s most vulnerable populations,” said FJI Litigation Director Dante P. Trevisani in a letter of support for Petrey’s nomination. “This included incarcerated people, those confined to state hospital and nursing homes, homeless people, and others. While there were organizations that provided direct services helping individuals in specific cases, no one was looking at the bigger picture and trying to stop these daily injustices from happening in the first place.”

Petrey hired Randall C. “Randy” Berg Jr. to be FJI’s first executive director. In Berg’s 41 years of leadership, FJI successfully won multiple class action challenges. Arias v. Wainwright resulted in improved living conditions for thousands of people in crowded and unsanitary jails in Florida. In Osterback v. Moore, FJI fought for reform of FDOC’s solitary confinement system, resulting in a drastic reduction in the number of people held in solitary, greater mental health treatment, and a required step-down method for eventual return to the general population.

FJI has also won housing cases in which elderly and Black residents were being discriminated against, and panhandling ordinance cases in which free speech was restricted. Petrey has continued to serve on FJI’s board of directors since its inception.

In 1991, Petrey was asked by former Florida Governor LeRoy Collins, whom he had met as a teenager, to take over running The Collins Center for Public Policy, a statewide nonprofit organization that researched and implemented nonpartisan solutions to Florida issues. Under Petrey’s leadership, the center focused on foreclosure mediation in the wake of the 2007 real estate crisis.

According to a report submitted by Petrey to the Florida Supreme Court in 2009, The Collins Center successfully applied its Managed Mediation systems to help the Office of Insurance Regulation manage the mediation of more than 20,000 life insurance disputes and the Department of Financial Services manage more than 30,000 hurricane insurance disputes. The report stated that “The Collins Center’s overall historical Managed Mediation success rate exceeds 80%, meaning that only 20% of the cases continue past the Managed Mediation process and proceed to litigation.”

In 2009, The Florida Supreme Court Task Force on Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Cases recommended the Collins Center’s foreclosure mediation program be adopted and used as a model in all circuits to resolve foreclosure filings.

Petrey also served as legal counsel for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation from 1980 to 2012. He was the president of The Florida Bar Foundation from 1987-88.

He was awarded the Tobias Simon Pro Bono Service Award in 1986, the highest award for pro bono service bestowed by the Florida Supreme Court.  He has also received the “Spirit of Excellence” award from the Miami Herald, the Cal Kovens Distinguished Community Service Award from Florida International University, and the Juvenile Justice Award from the Florida Conference of Circuit Courts. In 2011, Petrey was named the Floridian of the Year by Florida Trend.

FFLA will present the Medal of Honor, Curran Distinguished Service Award and other awards at its award ceremony and breakfast at the Signia by Hilton Bonnet Creek during The Florida Bar Annual Convention. Tickets are available here.