Former prosecutor and retired Judge E.J. Salcines loves the law almost as much as he loves Tampa history. So it is gratifying to see his considerable legal contributions be recognized by the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association.
The group this week presented Salcines a lifetime achievement award.
The details of his legal career do not convey his influence.
Some of the basics: The Tampa native worked as a state and federal prosecutor before being elected state attorney in 1968. He held the post 16 years. In 1998 Gov. Lawton Chiles named Salcines a judge on the Second District Court of Appeal, where he served until his retirement in 2008.
During his 50-year legal career, he wrote books, taught classes, led statewide assignments and launched pioneering work on pretrial intervention and other innovative efforts.
But what distinguished Salcines most was his generosity toward aspiring lawyers, especially those with little money or status.
He steered so many young Tampans to his alma mater, South Texas College of Law, that it became known as “EJU.” He hired and mentored young lawyers who later would become pre-eminent in the legal community.
From the lawyers he hired while he was state attorney, 42 have gone on to become judges, two became state attorneys, one was elected to Congress and three became state lawmakers.
Like most people, Salcines faced his share of challenges, most notably investigations initiated by an overzealous federal prosecutor that found nothing of consequence. This editorial board was sometimes critical of his judgment.
But Salcines, characteristically, handled the barbs with grace and good will and went on to continue a successful career, drawing respect and praise for his legal acumen on the bench.
The theatrical orator also became a passionate ambassador for Tampa’s history. He remains active in civic events today, and no doubt more honors will come his way.
But the prosecuting attorneys organization’s well-deserved recognition provides an opportunity to acknowledge a man who has served his community and his profession with integrity, energy and commitment.