Brother Jim Alderman, Florida ’58, was widely respected for his remarkable legal career, first as an attorney and later as a judge.
He completed a bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida, where he joined SigEp’s Florida Alpha chapter. During undergrad, he served as the chapter’s president. He then went on to study law at the Florida College of Law. After earning his J.D., Alderman returned to his hometown of Fort Pierce, Florida, where he operated a successful law practice for 10 years.
In 1971, he was appointed to the St. Lucie County Court and elected to a six-year term on the 19th Circuit Court the following year. Four years into that term, he received another appointment, this time to Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal.
He was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court in 1978, becoming the first judge to serve on all
four levels of the state’s judicial system. Starting in 1982, he served a two-year term as the court’s chief justice. After seven years on the state’s highest court, he retired from the bench in 1985 to manage his family’s cattle ranch.
Throughout the legal community, he was known as a fair and even-tempered jurist with a deep knowledge of the law.
In 1983, the Fraternity recognized Alderman’s achievements with the SigEp Citation.
Early in his own law career, while serving as chapter counselor at SigEp’s Florida State chapter, Bert Harris, Florida ’74, invited Alderman to meet with the undergrads.
“Justice Alderman was a kind and soft-spoken man,” Harris recalled. “During his tenure as chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, he visited with our Florida Epsilon chapter one evening. The assembled brothers were respectfully and remarkably quiet. Justice Alderman recalled his experience and personal growth as a Florida Alpha SigEp — and opined that our Fraternity provided young men with their first and purest form of democracy. They were no longer subject to parental oversight — but also learned the consequences of and responsibilities for their decisions.”
Having a sitting justice come to the chapter house was an event that left a lasting impression on Harris. Even though he was at the pinnacle of his success, it was very much in keeping with Alderman’s love of the law and SigEp to take time out to share his experiences with his young brothers.