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  ~ TIMESHARE~Appellate Practice~

     JC Fuller, PA    AV Rated
                             Florida Supreme Court Certified Arbitrator

United States Supreme Court
Chief Justice

If we look related, it is because we are.  Melville Fuller is my great, great grand uncle.  Melville Fuller's brother, Henry Weld, was my great great grandfather.  These two brothers were born in Augusta Maine.  While Henry went on to become a pharmacist, Melville dabbled in politics and then engaged in the practice of law.  In fact Melville and Abe Lincoln shared a law office as young lawyers.  When President Lincoln was assassinated,  Melville was honored to be one of the pall bearers.  These two gentlemen were friends despite their opposing political beliefs.  Melville and Grover Cleveland became friends, and it was President Cleveland who appointed Melville as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court where he served for 22 years.  Melville was known as "the Peacemaker of the Court" and he was often seen going to work with a parrot on his shoulder riding public transportation.  Melville had a love of animals as well as a love for people. As Chief Justice, Melville would scoot his stocking feet across the carpeted floor on cold winter days, and shock his fellow jurists with handshakes. He was a prankster.

When his brother became ill and died, Melville stepped in to assist in raising his nephew who was my great grandfather.  Justice Fuller wrote a rare and compelling opinion which detailed and condemned the lynching of a black man. In that day, such opinions were rarely if ever written by members of the Court.  That opinion has made me proud to be a Fuller.  Melville was honest and hardworking.  He died on July 4, 1910.  Oddly, it was only several years before I entered law school when I learned about Melville Fuller.  Yet I had wanted to be a civil rights lawyer since the first grade when my elementary school was forcibly integrated in 1973.

Yes, from what I have learned, Justice Fuller and I are alot alike (and I don't just mean our noses!)
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 Many may remember our original letterhead that we developed when we first opened our doors in 2003.   If not, here it is again.

Funny thing about this letterhead. When I first decided to open a law firm, I had the image of the handshake burned into my heart. I could not get away from that image for some reason. I felt it stood for civility, professionalism and respect. These were the virtues that I wanted my firm to represent, and I was determined..compelled.... to incorporate the handshake into my logo. So a dear friend of mine came up with the phrase: "meeting your legal needs with caring hands" and we used the scales of justice and the handshake as our logos for years.

Last year I was ready for an upgrade. So we removed the scales and the hands and opted for the sleek modern logo that I developed featuring the firm initials under a roof. 

We love our new look.      

The time came for me to explore becoming admitted to the United States Supreme Court Bar. The application process had a very personal significance for me in light of my relationship to the late Chief Justice Fuller.

Notwithstanding that my family lives in Northern Virginia which is a modern-day stone's throw away from the US Supreme Court Courthouse, we have never been inside.

I reviewed the US Supreme Court website and learned of the restrictions for visitors to watch the swearing-in ceremony for US Supreme Court Bar Members. Each lawyer can bring only one guest.

.......who would I bring?  

I was heartbroken at the thought of excluding anyone. So, as my sister-friend has always advised "you don't get unless you ask", I decided to write a letter to the Honorable US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. .....what could it hurt, I figured.

After writing the letter, I forgot all about it until several weeks had passed and an unassuming manila envelope came in the mail. The only identification was the return address: US SUPREME COURT.

 "Ok, here is the signed glossy from the Chief's press agent" I thought to myself as I set the envelope aside to open the next day. 

Boy was I wrong about that.

I finally decided to open the envelope and there was a folder inside. My stomach fell as I realized for the first time that perhaps I should not have been so brazen to just write a letter to the Chief. After all, this is post 9-11 and these kinds of letters put people on "lists". Sheesh I really regretted writing that letter. 

I forced myself to open the folder.

And there, in that folder was a beautiful personal letter written to me by the Chief Justice. I was in awe. I scrambled to the phone to read the letter to my parents, excited that they would all be able to come to the swearing-in, and thereafter have a personal tour of the Court.

 When I finished reading the letter, my mother said in a hushed voice: "Wow that is amazing, especially the part about Fuller's establishing the tradition of the justices shaking hands before going into Court, and before going into deliberations; a custom that lives to this day." she paused, and then continued .... "do you remember your first original letterhead that you had for all of those years? And your nagging feeling about the handshake and wanting to incorporate it into your letterhead before you started your firm?"

I had forgotten all about that.

Needless to say, we will now be using that logo again! 

And somehow, while I do not really understand it, I do believe that the Justice is aware of what we are doing over here, and I am motivated now more than ever to continue to advocate for and abide by those principles that he established for the Court and in his life and practice so many years ago: civility, professionalism, respect.

Justice Fuller was known as the Peacemaker Of the Court.  

It is my aspiration to live up to his example.   
                                             -Joyce Fuller