PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Will the Pinellas County Judicial Center one day be named after former State Attorney Bernie McCabe? If Florida Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls has his way, it will. Last week, the representative sent a letter to Pinellas County Commission Chairman Dave Eggers requesting that the commission consider renaming the complex.
Sprowls wrote, “As a boss, friend and mentor to thousands of lawyers over the years; a zealous advocate on behalf of victims and their families of slain police officers, Bernie McCabe has left an indelible mark on the lives of so many.”
Sprowls told 8 on Your Side, he believes renaming the courthouse would be a fitting tribute.
“It’s an opportunity for our community to honor him, to honor his legacy of justice,” said Sprowls. “He always asked his assistant state attorneys the same question on every case, what’s the right thing to do? In the modern political world, what is a better legacy to leave than asking the question what is the right thing to do.”
Pinellas Clerk of Court Ken Burke was not only a colleague of McCabe, but a friend. He too supports the change.
“He was so progressive in so many ways, as far as the criminal justice system and played such a big part,” said Burke. “It just seems appropriate to honor him in that way. “
The letter to commissioners is also signed by Burke, Bruce Bartlett, the acting state attorney, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Chief Judge Anthony Rondolino.
But there are rumblings in the legal community. Some defense attorneys wonder what sort of message this will send to their clients. Joshua Sheridan is also a former prosecutor who worked under McCabe.
“He ran the office with an iron fist,” said Sheridan, who expressed concern when he heard about the proposal. “I’m a defense attorney and I would have some concern that clients weren’t feeling they were getting a fair shake walking into a building named after a prosecutor. “
Haydee Oropesa shares Sheridan’s concern.
“I think there are other ways to honor his memory,” said Oropesa. “Justice should be blind. It should not lean to either side. It’s the people’s house. That’s where they go to seek justice. “
County commissioners have their first meeting since receiving the letter on Wednesday, Jan. 6 on Tuesday morning. A county spokesman told 8 on Your Side commissioners will likely not discuss the matter at that meeting, but should talk about it on a later date.
LATEST NEWS FROM WFLA.COM:
- Sarah Thomas to be 1st female to officiate at Super Bowl
- Tampa woman faced with $5,800 furniture storage bill after insurance company didn’t pay
- Sen. Josh Hawley blocks fast-track confirmation for Biden’s DHS secretary nominee
- Hillsborough County seniors concerned about securing second dose of COVID-19 vaccine
- WWE Champion Drew McIntyre ready for fans at Raymond James Stadium for WrestleMania