Twelfth Judicial Circuit mourns passing of retired Circuit Judge Robert J. Boylston

The Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court is mourning the loss of one of its “legends of the bench”, retired circuit judge Robert J. Boylston, who passed away at the age of 89 on April 29, 2021.

Retired circuit judge Robert J. Boylston

Judge Boylston was a Sarasota native. He graduated from Sarasota High School in 1949, attended and graduated Tennessee’s University of the South – Sewannee in 1953.

From 1953 to 1956, Judge Boylston served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Ft. Devins, Mass. In 1956, Judge Boylston attended the University of Florida law school and graduated in 1959, and was admitted to the Florida Bar that same year.

He worked with a law firm in Jacksonville before returning to the circuit to join the firm of Goodrich and Willis in Bradenton where he practiced until 1972 when he left to join the law firm of Grimes, Goebel and Parry. He practiced in that firm until Governor Bob Graham appointed Judge Boylston to the bench as a circuit judge in 1985. He served unopposed as a judge until his retirement in 1997.

Upon learning of Judge Boylston’s passing, the judges that worked with him shared anecdotes.

“I thoroughly enjoyed practicing before him. He always treated people before him with great respect. He was a great judge to emulate,” said Sarasota County Judge David Denkin.

Circuit Judge Gilbert Smith, Jr., said, “Those of you who knew Judge Boylston knew why he was called the Gentlemen Judge. … [A]nd he was that way all of his life.”

“As a teenager, he decided to become a lawyer after watching a trial in Sarasota where a county judge had been charged with attempted murder,” Judge Smith said.

“Judge Boylston was most impressed with the defense lawyer, Paul Albritton who previously served as a circuit judge in Sarasota County when it had its own circuit,” Judge Smith said.

“By the way,” Judge Smith added, “the county judge was acquitted.”

“I am saddened to learn of his passing,” said Circuit Judge Diana Moreland. She said Judge Boylston was a “gentleman and consummate professional.”

While trying one her most notorious cases in front of him, Judge Moreland, then a trial attorney, was overwhelmed with morning sickness. She said Judge Boylston would just thoughtfully cover her mad exits from the courtroom. This was during a time when trial attorneys just didn’t find themselves in such a condition, even if married, she said.

The Manatee County community will greatly miss Bob Boylston’s presence and the Court extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to his family and friends.

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