Judge Michael G. Williamson: Florida and the Nation lost a good one last Thursday

Florida and the Nation lost a good one last Thursday. While all of us practicing bankruptcy in the Middle District of Florida knew that Judge Williamson was battling some health issues, it was still a gut punch to hear of his passing. To many of us at Jennis Morse Etlinger he was a friend, mentor, and someone you dressed up your “A” game for in court.

Judge Williamson was appointed to the bench in 2000 and served 22 great years. His tenure as Chief Judge was critical in preserving the Middle District’s reputation as one of the strongest bankruptcy districts in the US. His mentors were the legends – Judge Paskay, Judge Baynes, Judge Glenn – and he carried the tradition to the judges we have on the bench today. To the attorneys in the bankruptcy bar, he was a teacher, an intellectual and a lawyer’s judge. He was always playing 10 steps ahead of your argument. He knew where you were going before you did. Unprepared attorneys would find themselves trapped before they even knew it.

For Dave Jennis and Chip Morse, Judge Williamson was a brilliant judge you loved to be in front of: “We both smile when we heard his riff on the 3-3-3: Make your brief no more than three pages, cite no more than three cases and keep the argument to within three minutes. His 3-3-3 rule wasn’t because he was impatient, but that he thought you could always be tighter with your arguments. Win or lose in court, he would lay out in detail where he agreed and where he disagreed with you. In the 60+ years that we have collectively being practicing law, he was one of the great ones. We’re so sad to have lost him so young.”

To the younger members of the firm, Daniel Etlinger, Katie Hinton and Michael Stavros, “Judge Williamson relished his role as a teacher as much as anything else. He always went out of his way to help elevate the bar.”

Judge Williamson passed away last week at the age of 71. He is survived by his wife, Linda, his children and grandchildren.