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Major Best Harding

Major Best Harding, former state supreme court chief justice. Bar: North Carolina 1959, Florida 1960. Recipient Award for Outstanding Contribution to Field of Matrimonial Law American Academy Matrimonial Lawyers, 1986, Distinguished Service award National Center State Courts, 2001, William A. Dugger Professional Integrity award Capital Rotary Club.


  • Harding, Major Best was born on October 13, 1935 in Charlotte, North Carolina, United States.

  • Education

    • Bachelor of Science, Wake Forest University, 1957. Juris Doctor, Wake Forest University, 1959. Master of Laws in Judicial Process, University Virginia, 1995.

      Doctor of Laws, Stetson University, 1991. Doctor of Laws, Florida Coastal School Law, 1999.


    • Staff judge advisory headquarters, Fort Gordon, Georgia, 1960-1962. Assistant county solicitor Criminal Court of Record, Duval County, Florida, 1962-1963. Private practice law, 1964-1968.

      Judge Juvenile Court, Duval County, 1968-1970, 4th Judicial Circuit of Florida, 1970—1991, chief judge, 1974-1977. Justice Supreme Court of Florida, Tallahassee, 1991—2002, chief justice, 1998-2000. Shareholder Ausley and McMullen, 2003.

      Supervisory judge Family Mediation Unit, 1984-1990. Member Matrimonial Law Commission and Gender Bias Study Commission. Chair Florida Court Education Council, past member Judicial Conference.

      1st dean New Judges College, 1975, faculty member in probate and juvenile areas, until 1979. Dean Florida Judicial College, 1984-1992, faculty member, 1984-2003, member bench-bar commission. Chairman Supreme Court committee on law-related education, since 1997.

    Major achievements

    • Bar: North Carolina 1959, Florida 1960.


    Denomination: Episcopalian


    Former board directors Legal Aid Association, Family Consultation Service, Daniel Memorial Home. Member board visitors Wake Forest School Law, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida. Past president Rotary Club of Riverside, Jacksonville, Florida, Rotary Club of Tallahasee.

    Chairman United States Constitution Bicentennial Commission, Jacksonville. Past member, deacon, elder St. John's Presbyterian Church. Commissioner General Assembly Presbyterian Church United States, 1971.

    Member vestry St. John's Episcopal Church, Tallahassee. Member American Bar Association (Commission Lawyer Assistance Programs Judicial Recognition award), American Board Trial Advocates (Jurist of Year Jacksonville chapter 2000), The Florida Bar, North Carolina State Bar Association, Chester Bedell Inn of Court (past president, ex-officio board member, master emeritus Chester Bedell), Dade County Trial Lawyers Association (Justice Harry Lee Anstead professionalism award 1998), Scabbard and Blade, Tallahassee American Inn of Court (ex officio trustee), Tallahassee Bar Association, Economic Club of Florida (vice president), Sigma Chi (Significant Sig award 1997), Phi Delta Phi.


    • Married Jane Lewis, December, 1958. Children: Major B. Junior, David L., Alice Harding Sanderson.
    • spouse: Jane Lewis
    • children: Major B. Junior Harding
    • David L. Harding
    • Alice Harding Sanderson Harding
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