As we continue to focus on people who have inspired and given much to Tampa Bay, this week we focus on a judge who was told he would never practice in law.
E.J. Salcines not only practiced law, but encouraged other Latinos in Tampa Bay.
“My family was primarily from West Tampa,” says E.J. Salcines.
When he was younger and smaller Salcines was known as Emiliano.
“I used to make some extra money on Saturday mornings shining shoes up and down Howard Ave. from Cherry St. to Main St.,” he remembers.
The Salcines family originated from Spain in the days when most everything in West Tampa and Ybor City was spoken in Spanish.
“My father had a large general store, a clothing store, right in the heart of West Tampa,” says Salcines.
It was in that store he remembers a prominent Tampa attorney planting the seed to become a lawyer.
He worked hard in his studies so that one day he finally started law school at a university in Florida and took a class that would alter his course, but not derail him.
“My professor of Criminal Law and Procedure told me, ‘You Latins are too emotional. You’re not meant to be attorney’s. Choose another profession,'” recalls Salcines.
Instead, he chose another school, South Texas College of Law in Houston, Texas. Growing up in the 1950’s in West Tampa, Salcines had seen racial discrimination but never experienced ethnic prejudice.
“If anything, he did me a favor. It only made me resolve, this guy is wrong. I’m going to be a lawyer, and I’m going to show this guy someday,” says Salcines.
And did he! His career spanned that of a federal and state prosecuting attorney, 10 years of private practice, and later was appointed to the second district court of appeal for 15 years.
That “emotional Latin” of long ago, became the “Honorable emotional Latin.”
“And, God was with me, and I did become a lawyer and I did succeed, and I helped a lot of others, especially in the Latino community,” says Salcines.
He mentored, guided, and encouraged so many young law students, often sending them to his alma matter, that it became endearingly knows as E.J. U.
Judge Salcines is not done saying Vamos Tampa Bay! He’s only 80 years old!
“It’s the garlic, the olive oil, and lots of red wine,” says Salcines laughing.