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Photo by Joe Wilhelm Jr. - Circuit Court Judge Charles "Chuck" Arnold and his wife, Carolyn, with his portrait at his retirement ceremony Thursday at the Duval County Courthouse. He was appointed to the bench by Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1997.
Jax Daily Record Monday, Dec. 3, 201212:00 PM EST

Circuit Judge Charles Arnold retires

by: Joe Wilhelm Jr.

Another chapter of a 44-year career in law came to a close Thursday as a retirement ceremony was held for Circuit Judge Charles "Chuck" Arnold at the Duval County Courthouse.

About 300 people attended the event to recognize Arnold for his years of service on the bench.

The large table that usually sat in the center of the courtroom was removed and replaced with about 50 chairs to accommodate guests.

One of those guests was attorney Thomas Bishop of Tanner Bishop, who said he was "carrying Arnold's briefcase" when he first started practicing law when both were in private practice.

"He was the kind of judge we all wanted presiding over our cases. The truth was the truth. A lie is a lie. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. At the end of the day, you knew that he would render a decision based on the law," said Bishop.

Bishop also posed a motion to set procedure for the hanging of Arnold's portrait in the Duval County Courthouse.

"I move that when we hang his portrait we look him in the eye and say, 'Good job Chuck. You did a really good job,'" said Bishop, reflecting on Arnold's career on the bench.

Arnold was appointed in 1997 by Gov. Lawton Chiles. Before becoming a judge, Arnold served as an assistant general counsel for the City under former General Counsel William Durden, who later became a circuit judge.

Arnold served as an assistant state attorney under former State Attorney Ed Austin and as general counsel when Austin was elected mayor. Following public service, he entered private practice with his uncles Walter Arnold and Edward Booth.

"He was the man to know if you had a bad problem," said Bishop.

Most of his judicial career was focused on criminal courts, but at the end of his career Arnold was assigned by Chief Judge Donald Moran to hear tobacco lawsuits.

"I told Chuck to take a year on the tobacco cases. There were so many cases and they involved very complex material, but we have a streamlined process all due to the hard work and expertise of Chuck Arnold," said Moran.

Arnold was known for arriving at the courthouse before sunrise and leaving well after sunset.

"It is an Arnold and Durden family tradition being the first one here and the last one to leave, though (County Judge Gary) Flower would sometimes beat me in," said Arnold.

"(Judge Mallory Cooper and Arnold) were usually the first ones here in the morning, and I will miss those morning meetings," said Arnold.

Cooper is Durden's daughter.

Former Assistant State Attorney Mark Borello was elected to replace Arnold on the Circuit bench.

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