For more than 22 years, Circuit Judge Roger A. Barker demonstrated his keen skill for the law, hearing cases in the 9th Judicial Circuit. “He was a man of extreme intellect; he was what they call a judge’s judge,” said Circuit Judge Belvin Perry Jr., chief judge of the 9th Judicial Circuit. “He was a man that was kind. But a man, that by his mere presence, you had a respect for the office of judge.” Described as a quiet, gentle man by family and friends, Barker enjoyed serving as a mentor to younger judges. “He would always encourage me and tell me when I did a good job. And he would certainly tell me when I didn’t do a good job,” Perry said.
Born in Orlando, Barker graduated from Orlando Senior High School in 1930. After earning a degree in business administration and doctor of jurisprudence in law from the University of Florida, he started a law practice at the corner of Orange Avenue and Church Street. During World War II, he served as an Army reserve second lieutenant at a camp in Tennessee. After the war, he returned to Orlando and resumed his practice. In the early 1950s he served as judge of Industrial Claims Court and county judge of Orange County. He was appointed circuit judge of the 9th Judicial Circuit in 1957. At that time there were only two other judges on the circuit, which oversees Orange and Osceola counties. In the 1960s, Barker served a two-year term as chief judge of the 9th Judicial Circuit. He retired in 1979 but continued serving as a senior judge until the early 1990s.
When he wasn’t in a courtroom, Barker enjoyed growing orchids. A shade house at his home was filled with more than 500 of his prized plants. He was a life member and past president of the Central Florida Orchid Society.
Barker was an elder at the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando. He was a member of the Orange County Bar Association for more than 60 years. Judge Barker died in 1998 of a heart attack at age 86. The courtroom on the top floor of the Orange County Courthouse was dedicated in Judge Barker’s honor.
This interview was conducted on March 6, 1993 by James R. Spence for the Friends of the Orlando Public Library’s Oral History Committee. We are grateful for the Orange County Regional History Center‘s making this recording available for Orlando Memory.
Judge Barker’s obituary was published in the Orlando Sentinel Obituary November 25, 1998, D-3
Interview Part 1
Interview Part 2
Interview Part 3
Judge Roger A. Barker Part 2
Judge Roger A. Barker Part 3