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Legal wits produce Law Week laughs

At Friday's Law Week luncheon, as Circuit Judge and Florida State graduate Patricia Thomas was introducing the keynote speaker, former Florida Supreme Court Justice Stephen H. Grimes, she had a warning for Gator fans in the audience.

"He attended, and hold your applause," said Thomas, the county's chief jurist, "The University of Florida Law School."

Naturally, a brisk applause rose from the audience.

"I said no applause," Thomas joked.

The applause quickly stopped, replaced by laughter.

I FIND THIS CELL PHONE IN CONTEMPT OF COURT: Thomas and Grimes share a sharp sense of humor. Thomas explained to the audience how Grimes once could not figure out how to use a cell phone without the aid of his longtime assistant.

"This is the "on' button," his assistant told him.

"I'm what you call technologically challenged," said Grimes, 70.

MAY I TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE, YOUR HONOR? Grimes said that when he was named chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court in 1994, he told his wife, Fay, what was expected of her.

"I told her she didn't have to call me chief justice," Grimes said. "Just chief."

It didn't wash, Grimes said.

"She said, "I'm out of your jurisdiction. I'll call you whatever I want.' "

THE MEDIA ELITE IS NEVER WRONG: Grimes shared one story of his days in his native Polk County before he became chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

"Before I left for Tallahassee, the Lakeland Ledger ran a poll to see how I would do," Grimes said.

"One hundred percent said I would do well. No one said I would do badly.

"But then I looked at the bottom of the poll, and it said only four people responded."

The audience laughed.

"I have more than four people in my family," Grimes lamented.

_ Staff writers Paulette Ritchie and Jamal Thalji contributed to this report.