Arthur Jay England Jr., a Florida Supreme Court justice from 1975-1981 and its chief justice from 1978-1980, authored Florida’s Corporate Income Tax Code, the 1973 Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act — known as the “Little FTC Act’’ — and the Florida Administrative Procedures Act.
But he was proudest of bringing the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) system to Florida, a way to fund legal services for the poor with the bank interest on client money that lawyers deposit in banks.
Under England’s direction, the Florida Bar Foundation started the country’s first IOLTA program in 1981. It has since been adopted by every state and the District of Columbia.
England died of pulmonary fibrosis at home in Coral Gables on Thursday. The day before, he was still working on cases, “tethered to an oxygen machine,’’ said Deborah Miller England, his wife of 29 years. She also is an attorney — as are two of his six children.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, on Dec. 23, 1932, England was 80, a veteran of the U.S. Army.
In 2008, Miami-Dade’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit Historical Society Board named England a “Legal Legend,’’ one of 12 honored that year for outstanding contributions to the legal system and the administration of justice in the county.
By then, he had accumulated a long list of awards, including the Florida Bar Foundation’s Medal of Honor.
He once worked at the law firms of Fine Jacobson Block England Klein Colan & Simon, and Steel, Hector & Davis.
Martin Dyckman, a retired reporter from what was then the St. Petersburg Times — now the Tampa Bay Times — spent years covering England’s career. He said that one of his great achievements was getting elected in the first place during a time when the court was rocked by scandals that forced justices to resign.
He was a pilot, said Dyckman, and barnstormed the state on a limited budget drumming up support.
He took the bench as a reformer and an ally of then-Gov. Reubin Askew “during a time when it was pretty risky for lawyers to come out against the clique on the court,’’ Dyckman said.
Askew called England’s election to the court more important than his own to the statehouse, Dyckman said.
During England’s tenure as chief justice, the court decided to restrict its own jurisdiction, which Dyckman called England’s “signal achievement.’’
After leaving the bench, England spent the bulk of his legal career, 1992-2012, at Greenberg Traurig, where he founded and co-chaired the National Appellate Practice.
In 1990, he’d founded the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, serving as its charter president, and last year established a solo appellate practice.
England was Florida’s first Jewish Supreme Court justice. He was active in Jewish causes, including the Anti-Defamation League, and was a past president of Temple Israel in Tallahassee. He belonged to Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest.
Richard A. Rosenbaum, Greenberg Traurig’s chief executive officer, said in a statement that England “was consistently honored throughout the years for his many outstanding contributions to the legal system. But what those who knew him personally will remember most is the man who exhibited the class, values, ethics and gentle spirit that served as a role model to his firm and his profession.’’