Inside Bush v. Gore by Charley Wells

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Inside Bush v. Gore by Charley Wells

Inside Bush v. Gore by Charley Wells

October 27, 2016

Listen as former Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court Charles T. Wells reads from his book, Inside Bush v. Gore in this excerpt from an oral history interview with the Orlando native at his GrayRobinson law office in downtown Orlando, October 13, 2016.

LISTEN Part V (8:17)

Excerpt from Inside Bush v. Gore, page 133, read by the author, Charley Wells:

As I observed earlier, this was a story about the transfer of power in the world's most powerful nation. I believe the transfers of power in various parts of the world since 2000 have proven over and over again the benefit and wisdom of our country's citizens' support for and allegiance to the rule of law enforced by an independent court system. Unlike what we have witnessed in the Middle East and in parts of Africa, there was never in the year 2000 any real threat that the disputes surrounding the presidential election would be settled in the streets rather than in the courts.

There was general acceptance throughout the thirty-six days that once the final decision had been made by the final court, power would transfer peacefully. I have often remarked that a striking fact of which we as Americans can and should be proud, and for which we must be grateful, is that the blocks of trucks parked for those thirty-six days across from our court had television transmitters on their roofs, not machine guns. Security in our court, and in front of our court, was never a real issue.

In the more than two-hundred-year history of our country, our citizens have developed an expectation that when a dispute arises that cannot be otherwise worked out, it is the role of the courts to make a decision to end the dispute, and that the decision will be honored and respected. This expectation has grown out of faith on the part of our citizens that courts will provide due process in the presentation and consideration of the dispute, and that the courts will reach a "final" decision with competence, diligence, and without delay. Regardless of the final result of Bush v. Gore, or the result of interim decisions during the thirty-six days, I believe that the record demonstrates that both the federal and Florida courts provided due process within the time constraints that had long before the 2000 election been placed by Congress on the resolution of disputes in presidential elections. I also believe that the record demonstrates that the courts reached their decisions with competence, diligence, and without delay....

Orlando trial attorney Charley Wells began serving as Justice of the Florida Supreme Court on June 16, 1994. He served as Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court from July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2002.

He was the Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice during the 36 days when the Florida Supreme Court received the challenge of deciding election ballots for the Bush v. Gore presidential election.

Justice Wells continued serving as a justice on  the Florida Supreme Court until March 2009.

Attorney and author Charley Wells now works in private practice at GrayRobinson law firm in downtown Orlando.

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