The Jacksonville native’s term begins July 1 Anstead named Chief Justice Anstead named Chief Justice May 1, 2002 Regular News Born and raised in a single-parent home in Jacksonville’s Brentwood housing project during the Great Depression, Harry Lee Anstead began work at a young age, cutting lawns, moving furniture, doing anything to help support his family and build a future career for himself as a lawyer.Anstead, 64, advanced that career to the highest judicial office in state government on April 10 when the members of the Florida Supreme Court announced they had unanimously elected him chief jus-tice for a two-year term beginning July 1. Anstead will be Florida’s 50th chief justice.He said that the major priority of his administration will be maintaining the excellence of Florida’s trial courts during a time of transition. Under a 1998 constitutional amendment, funding for many trial court programs will shift from county budgets to the state budget by 2004. Implementation of this change still must be worked out with the legislature.“Florida’s trial courts have been universally recognized as models in programs like treatment-based drug courts, mediation, and unified family courts, to name only a few,” Anstead said. “My goal is to ensure that we maintain this standard of excellence during the reorganization of state courts mandated by the voters in 1998.”Other issues on the future-Chief Justice’s agenda include those affecting children in the courts, including possible reforms and heightened attention to the juvenile justice system.“We in the justice system should feel privileged that our society has placed its most troubled children on our doorstep, and I am concerned that we respond effectively,” Anstead said. “One of the most stirring pleas I have ever heard was the late Gov. Lawton Chiles’ last ‘state of the state’ speech, in which he declared that the one overriding issue we face in Florida is the way we treat our children — all of them.”Anstead worked his way through undergraduate and law school at the University of Florida, and he later earned a master of laws degree in the judicial process at the University of Virginia. Between undergraduate and law school, he served with the National Security Agency in Washington, D.C.Anstead began his legal career as a trial and appellate attorney until he became a judge of the Fourth District Court of Appeal in 1977, where he also served as chief judge, as well as serving from time-to-time as a circuit and county judge throughout the district. On August 29, 1994, he moved to the Florida Supreme Court through appointment by Chiles.While on the high court, Anstead initiated a comprehensive statewide program to improve professionalism among judges, lawyers, and law schools in the state. His initiative led to the creation of a permanent Center for Professionalism at The Florida Bar that the ABA has recognized as one of the most significant professionalism initiatives in the nation. Anstead has been called the father of the professionalism movement in Florida.Anstead’s life remains rooted in his experiences growing up in Jacksonville. For example, he always uses his full name — Harry Lee — because it honors an important figure in his early life. Many neighbors helped Loretta Anstead and her family after her husband abandoned the family shortly after Justice Anstead was born. One who helped was named Harry Lee Minor, and when Anstead expressed dislike for the name “Harry” his mother reminded him of its origin. He has proudly been “Harry” ever since.“My mother is my personal hero,” Anstead said. “It was a tribute to her tenacity that she did anything to support, keep us together, and managed to get us a unit in the Brentwood project, which at the time was much sought after, with its nearby schools and parks.”Life was still rough-and-tumble for Anstead. For a long time in the 1940s, his was the only Catholic family living in the housing project, and his best friend was from the only Jewish family. Both endured harassment because of their religious beliefs. While working as a laborer for a moving company in Jacksonville, Anstead’s work-mate and friend was a young African-American teenager.“We started work very early, so lunch was the high point of the day,” Anstead said. “But when it came time for lunch, I had to go inside and bring our lunches out for us to eat. Only whites were allowed inside in those days. The impact of discrimination is something I can never forget.”Through these experiences Anstead said he learned the positive message of tolerance very early.Anstead and his wife Sue, a child advocate before moving to Tallahassee, have five children — Chris, Jim, Laura, Amy, and Michael, and one grandchild, Ashlee Marie.