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Judge Kim C. Hammond, Legend From Seminole Gridiron to Flagler Courtroom, Dies at 72

| July 17, 2017

Judge Kim C. Hammond presided over Flagler County criminal, family and civil court from 1979 to 2011. (© FlaglerLive)

Judge Kim C. Hammond presided over Flagler County criminal, family and civil court from 1979 to 2011. (© FlaglerLive)

On the eve of his retirement after two decades serving as Flagler County’s circuit judge seven years ago, Kim Hammond spoke about the pictures that had been taken down from the walls of his office, in the building that bore his name.

The pictures traced the arc of a career that mirrored one of his touchdown passes when he was a star quarterback. A touchdown pass against the Florida Gators. A touchdown pass against Penn State in the 1967 Gator Bowl. Right above it, the MVP Award he got in that game. Pictures of his days at Florida State. A picture of Bear Bryant grabbing him by the neck at a banquet. Pictures of teammates. Pictures that went back to his high school years, including pictures of Bill Nelson—whom he still called “Billy”– in Little League, where the future astronaut and U.S. senator was a catcher (it was Nelson who recruited Hammond.) That was when he drove a black Mercury Marquis four-door and when his teammates called him Governor.

He didn’t mention pictures of Bill Proctor, the future president of Flagler College and Florida House representative who was key in securing a second judgeship for Flagler by 2011: Proctor had once punished Hammond, because Proctor, a disciplinarian on the Seminole football team, had found dust in Hammond’s college room. He made him run up and down the steps of Campbell Stadium at night for that. “They had punishments you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy,” Hammond had said in a 2010 interview.

It was easier in playing professional ball—“you’re dealing with men, then,” Hammond had said—as he did for the Miami Dolphins and the Boston Patriots for a couple of years, getting paid $25,000 to $30,000 in 1967 (or $186,000 to $223,000 in today’s dollars) and setting aside much of it to pay for law school. Gov. Bob Graham appointed Hammond and Jim Foxman—the other man who has a courthouse named after him, in Volusia County—to the bench the same year, 1979. When Judge Mel Orfinger left Flagler for a seat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, the chief judge asked Foxman and Hammond which of the two wanted to take the seat in Flagler.

Hammond said he would.

The rest is now etched in that white granite face of the Kim C. Hammond Justice Center in Bunnell, in whose shadow Hammond took his last bow in November 2010, after logging 11,000 days as the county’s judge of all things.

On Sunday, Judge Kim C. Hammond died in Daytona Beach after battling illness for many years. He was not yet 73.

“There’s still a lot of goodness, even among people that are having problems, making mistakes, a good many of them are pretty good people in most respects and are just struggling through hard times in their lives.”

His death left friends, colleagues and admirers shaken at the loss of one of the few men who could make the building that bears his name look small in comparison.

“He was a lot of things to me, a father figure, a brother, a friend, a mentor,” said Circuit Judge Raul Zambrano, who worked with Hammond in Flagler before taking his place as the county’s criminal court judge in 2011. He paused today as he spoke, emotion at times overcoming him, as he’d remained close to Hammond through the years, until the end. “We ate every day together, every single day I was in that courthouse. You develop a kind of strong bond with people like that. It really hurts.”

“Law aside, we shared a lot in common in terms of how we were raised by our parents,” Zambrano, now the circuit’s chief judge, continued, “and there was a remarkable similarity between what was then rural Brevard County in the 1960s and 1970s,” where Zambrano spent his adolescence and young adult years after moving from Panama, “and Panama in the 1970s. It’s just how he grew up and the things he did as a child, it’s almost as if we lived in a different era, we were 20 years apart, and yet we were having identical experiences.” The two men it seemed had more in common than they had differences, down to the career paths they took.

And there was this about Hammond’s father-figure effect on the younger Zambrano, as he remembered himself back then: “He was always a calming presence for me, I’m kind of young, my Hispanic culture, you know, full of emotions a lot, and he was always able to calm you down, soothing voice, able to tell you what to do next. It’s just something I’ll miss a lot.”

Gail Wadsworth worked with him in two courthouses for a decade. He taught her to be the clerk of court, she says. His tenure had begun within just a couple of years after her father, Billy Wadsworth, had left the bench in 1978.

“I just wasn’t ready for that, not him, he was one of my heroes,” Wadsworth said today. “I’ve known him since I was 17, and I’m 71, so that’s a long time. I didn’t play football, I didn’t have head trauma, I didn’t gain diabetes from all the related things in my life, and God Bless him, I’m sorry, and I’ll miss him.”

He’d never realized what an enormous workload he was carrying, Wadsworth said, in a day when he did criminal, civil, family—all but county court.

Wadsworth and her staff kept tabs and tabulated the load. “I took those numbers to Bill Proctor and I said help us, help Flagler County get a new judge,” Wadsworth said. Proctor was in the Legislature by then. In 2011, the additional seat was secured.

Judge Kim Hammond the day he retired, Nov. 5, 2010. (© FlaglerLive)

Judge Kim Hammond the day he retired, Nov. 5, 2010. (© FlaglerLive)

Rick Blaine, the Director of Courts, remembers his days as a bailiff, providing security for Hammond. “He never put himself out to be a high and mighty person, he was very humble, and it was a pleasure to guard him when I did,” Blaine said. The two would often have lunch together. “He was a great guy, all around good guy, humble, always willing to say hi, shake hands and talk to people. Every decision he made he didn’t take lightly.” He added: “It’s a loss for the community and a loss for the legal world, but he lived a heck of a life.” (Palm Coast Mayor Milissa Holland called him a “gentle giant.”)

He had the admiration of law enforcement as well. “He is what a judge is meant to be,” said Liz Williams, the long-time detective with the Flagler Beach Police Department who continues to fill a central role in Drug Court. “Thorough, decent, fair, and honest. He had incredible mastery of the law but was insightful enough to see the human behind the act. It was his compassion and vision that was instrumental in the birth of Flagler County’s Drug Court and for that, I will remain forever grateful. He will always be an inspiration to me and I am honored to have known him.”

In November 2011, Hammond agreed to a 75-minute interview with FlaglerLive, in his office, days before his retirement. It was his longest then or since. The interview, the audio of which appears in full below, has never been published before. He spoke of his career as an athlete and a judge, and reflected about the law and how Flagler changed over the years. At one point he spoke about his own effect as a judge locally.

“I think I’ve been treated particularly well by the citizens of this circuit and this county, and they’ve shown a certain affinity or likeness for some of the things that I’ve done, and I’m sure some would dispute things that I’ve done,” Hammond said. “But I’ve been treated pretty well. And I realized some years back, I was averaging several thousand cases a year that I was handling that involved multiple parties, family members, friends, loved ones, people that were interested in the litigation, people in the community that were watching or interested, and without exception, I realized that I was touching a lot of people’s lives. It’s almost scary. You don’t touch that many people’s lives, many times if you’re a star athlete. You’ll have certain, maybe, some loyalties. But I was handling thousands of cases.”

He continued: “So you really have an opportunity to have some influence in a lot of people’s lives, and that almost is frightening, because it comes with it a lot of responsibility, and you become more aware of that the longer you do it. It doesn’t mean that you change much, except that you maybe listen better, you maybe consider some things you hadn’t considered before, you see things a little bit differently. That opportunity to have that influence in people’s lives is really a high honor.”

Not even his daily exposure to crime’s consequences dimmed his generally bright outlook on society.

“There’s still a lot of compassion out there,” he said. “There’s still a lot of goodness, even among people that are having problems, making mistakes, a good many of them are pretty good people in most respects and are just struggling through hard times in their lives. So I feel pretty optimistic about the world around me and the people I deal with.”


FlaglerLive’s Audio Interview With Judge Hammond, November 2010
(iPhones and Android devices, click here.)

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.


The Seventh Judicial Circuit released the following obituary notice:

The Seventh Judicial Circuit sadly announces the passing of the Honorable Kim C. Hammond, who served for more than 30 years as Circuit Judge in Flagler County. Judge Hammond died yesterday, July 16, 2017, in local hospice care. He was 72.

A native of Miami, Kim Hammond grew up in Melbourne. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Florida State University, where he was an All-American quarterback. He played professional football for the Miami Dolphins and the Patriots while going to law school. He passed the Florida Bar in 1972 and started as an attorney in private practice in Daytona Beach. He was appointed to the bench in late 1979 and for many years served as the only circuit judge sitting in Bunnell, presiding over all aspects of law.

He was credited with making the new courthouse in Flagler County a reality and the justice center, which opened in 2007, was named in his honor. He also served as a former Chief Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit. He retired from the bench on Jan. 3, 2011.

“Judge Hammond was a beloved judge in the Seventh Judicial Circuit,” said Chief Judge Raul A. Zambrano. “He was the ultimate statesman and was revered by his colleagues on the bench. He will be missed – but will always be remembered as a true Seminole.”

In addition to his work in the courtroom, Hammond served on numerous statewide court committees and held leadership positions with the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges. He also was an instructor with the Florida Judicial College. He was active in his community, serving the United Way, Boy Scouts, the Daytona Beach Community College Foundation, Florida Special Olympics and First Presbyterian Church of Daytona Beach.

He is survived by his wife Jan, three children and eight grandchildren.

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46 Responses for “Judge Kim C. Hammond, Legend From Seminole Gridiron to Flagler Courtroom, Dies at 72”

  1. Great Judge and he always listen to both sides equally. Rip Judge Hammond

  2. So sorry to hear that he passed away. My deep sympathy and condolences to the family he has left behind, may he rest in peace…Amen

  3. Oh man. Condolences to his family. Sorry to hear.

  4. What a loss :( he put the drunk driver who almost killed my husband and I away for 7 1/2 yrs…not many judges to anything to drunk drivers..he was a good man and a good sad for his family.

  5. Dee Louden says:

    He was a good judge my condolences to his family

  6. Cyd Weeks says:

    Rest In Peace Sir. Prayers for healing hearts to his family and friends.

  7. Judge Hammond was one of our original Pipers when our band formed in 2001. We join Flagler County in mourning Judge Kim C. Hammond

  8. Keith Sullivan says:

    Very sad. Judge Kim Hammons fairness ,honesty and love for the people of Flagler County have left an indelible Mark upon many many lives he will be missed greatly

  9. May he rest in peace and may God comfort his family.

  10. South Florida says:

    R.i.p prayers to family and friends.

  11. Dave Clair says:

    Rest In Peace , Mr Hammond ! Respect

  12. Sandra Hiatt says:

    So sorry to hear….Prayers for the family RIP….He was a great man and mentor!

  13. In 2001, I was asked by then Flagler County Sheriff Manfre to put together a Courthouse Security package including written procedures and protocol. I assumed the position as the Supervisor of Courthouse Security. I sat down many hours with Judge Hammond to discuss his vision of what was expected. The task including electronic security equipment materialized in a short period of time. From that time forward, I had great rapport with him. We had a little running fun thing going in college football — he being a diehard Seminole and me a Maryland Terrapin grad and supporter. I never got to rub it in very often. Terrapin football wasn’t the best. Even so he and I would have a good time with the rivalry. When I retired in 2005, he surprised me with playing the bagpipe marching down the hallway picking up others as he came near. I am in shock at the news of his passing. He was a hell of a great man, a super jurist, and a man I looked up to and admired immensely. My deepest condolences to his family.

  14. Concerned says:

    RIP Judge Hammond. You were one of the nicest people in this county.

  15. Yes a good judge with feelings for his job and a heart at the right spot to serve both parties
    Yet to young for the cross over.
    Rest sof judge Hammond

  16. palmcoaster says:

    I am sorry to learn of his passing…an all American Florida Boy Quarter Back First and then a Judge. What an exemplary image for our youth. May God embrace you Judge Hammond and bless your grieving family! You will be shooting that football to your buddies in heaven now! Will be greatly missed!

  17. Governor Graham was a GOOD MAN, he GAVE a damn about Florida & her people,so whatever he chose, must have been right.

  18. Toni Lee says:

    Rest in Peace Your Honor.

  19. Josh Davis says:

    I actually tried the last case in front of Judge Hammond. It was a Juvenile case in which the Judge fills the role of Judge and jury. I still remember his empathy for everyone involved. He was so intelligent and kind that it was just an honor to practice in front of him. It is sad to hear of his passing but I am glad he is in a better place. I pray to touch half as many lives as Kim Hammond. A true gentleman.

  20. Lisa Marie says:

    Oh wow sorry to hear this :(

  21. A truly nice man. Rest in peace with condolences to his family.

  22. Joe Alford says:

    Awsome n humble gentleman you would never know he was in this high position, he will be missed . Got to meet him
    Twice as he came to deland q b club to speak to us n even played his bag pipes . R i p my brother ❤️✝️

  23. P. Rose says:

    RIP Judge Hammond.

  24. Condolences to his family

  25. So sorry to hear the news. RIP Kim Hammond. Watched many a game at FSU with you as the quarterback.

  26. Deb Oegerle says:

    RIP – the loss of a remarkable man!

  27. RIP Judge Hammond !! Thank you for your service to our county for many years.

  28. paul katz says:

    I moved up to Flagler County from Daytona in 1987, to practice law, mostly doing litigation. I had known Kim Hammond briefly in Daytona.. we had children ( us as parents, actually) that were in the same LaMaze birthing classes years before. I am so saddened to hear of his passing. Many new residents of Flagler County that did not know him are unaware of what a treasure he was. As the only circuit judge in Flagler County for years, his influence on the quality of life here was immense. He knew that most folks in Flagler County had no money for appeals, so their only chance at justice was in front of Kim Hammond. His desire to “get it right”, in accordance with the law, was matched only by his respect for the clients and lawyers that came to him for justice. As a lawyer, I have horror stories about judges who used their positions of authority to make life miserable for those that come before them. Kim Hammond was the opposite. He was diligent, courteous, respectful, and in awe of his own responsibility representing the entire “concept” of justice to those who came before him. People who lost cases in front of him may not have been happy with the outcome, but they always knew they got a fair hearing, and were treated with utmost respect. That includes lawyers and clients. He was a true “gentle giant” of the law in Flagler County. Not to mention a fearsome competitor outside the courtroom. I remember asking him one day at lunch at the old hospital cafeteria, where he ate often, what did he do with his competitive drive that fueled him as both an athlete and a litigator, which he was before ascending to the bench. His efforts now were not so much to “win”, but to “get it right”. A different mindset, but one that drove him to give as much effort as he did on the football field. It also fueled him, as did his commitment to the folks that came before him to have an experience that, win or lose, they could conclude was fair, and that confirmed their faith in the Flagler County justice system. And he succeeded in that endeavor to his great credit. He will be missed… he should be missed.

  29. Realist says:

    I had the privilege of knowing the judge via an incident with a close relative. He was a man of honor and he will be missed. Met him years later at my dentist while I was with my daughter. I introduced her to him as a living legend with a court house named after him. His response was “they had no other person to name it after”. He was a great human being and very humble. God grant him peace eternally.

  30. My condolence to the family, Kim was a good friend. I remember his sensational gridion career, at FSU, seeing him and the family at church on Sundays, and his remarkable career as our circuit judge here in Flagler County. Good speed Kim.

  31. Born and Raised Here says:

    Kim was a good friend, and will be miss. Growing up in Flagler County and a FSU alumni, I remember his sensational gridiron career at FSU. Always look forward to seeing Kim and the family in church, I admired him and his remarkable career as our Circuit Court Judge here in Flagler County, My deepest condolence to the family

  32. Heading North says:

    I knew Judge Hammond, appeared in his court on occasion, and can honestly say I have never met or known many men as fine as he was. A true scholar, gentleman and professional. He will be sadly missed by so many of us in law enforcement, past and present.
    Rest in Peace, your Honor!!

  33. Robert Cuff says:

    After practicing law in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale for a few years, I came to Flagler in 1983. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the local judiciary. What I found was Kim Hammond and Bill Atack, two of the finest people I’ve ever known and certainly two of the best examples of “judicial temperament” I’ve had the privilege to encounter.

    Most folks who don’t (fortunately) have much interaction with the court system will ever know (unfortunately) what fine judges these men were and how hard both worked to instill confidence in our system of justice – as corny as that sounds in today’s superheated public atmosphere.

    It’s nice that the County named the courthouse for him, but that isn’t why the people who knew Kim Hammond will remember him.

  34. Connie Whitehead says:

    RIP. Judge Hammond was one of the best men I have ever met. He was kind, compassionate, and a great Judge. I worked with him at the old Couthouse in Bunell. My best memory is of him playing bagpipes for me on my birthday. He will truly be missed. Condolences to the Hammond family.

  35. ASF says:

    He served his community well. May he rest in peace and may his memory always remain a blessing to all who knew and loved him.

  36. Larry Gagner says:

    I got to know Kim Hammond through our mutual participation in the WFL in 1974/5. A finer person, I have yet to meet. Not many times in my athletic career have I witnessed such a strong competitor, who was so mild-mannered.
    I dated his wife, Jan, in HS. She broke up with me for reasons she didn’t explain. (Not that that was a requirement). But as I see it, she was bound for greener pastures and obviously found it as the perfect complement for Judge Hammond.
    I admit I might have been partially responsible for Kim’s affliction, since we offensive guards don’t always block as good as we should–particularly so on passing downs. But, I was never called down by Kim for my insufficiency. Nor did he ever voice his displeasure at any other ballplayers for theirs.
    In this very troubled world we live in, one who is walking to His (Christ’s) beat stands out among humanity. Kim Hammond emulates one such individual. Our lives have been blessed by knowing him. Do I hear an amen? “Amen.”

  37. Scott Westbrook says:

    It was a great honor to have worked as Judge Hammond’s law clerk (staff attorney) and in front of him as an attorney. I have not met a better person during my legal career. I was always impressed by the way he conducted himself in the courtroom and behind the scenes. He treated everyone with respect and dignity. Whenever I think of Flagler County, I will think of Judge Hammond. He and his family will be in my familiy’s prayers and on our minds during this difficult time. He was a great man, a great judge, and an even better person.

  38. Telling it like it is says:

    We all face judgement day…and get a fair trial…Rest In Peace

  39. Jack Henning says:

    Kim and I played football together at Melbourne High School and of course I followed his career at FSU and the Patriots. I have only seen him one time since then at our 40’th reunion but we had a lot to talk about both old times and our then work. He was the same old Kim. It is wonderful that he was able to do all of those great things and the world is less with his passing.
    John Henning, Senior Status Circuit Judge, State of West Virginia

  40. Gene White says:

    I prosecuted in his court for 8 years in Volusia and Flagler. He was the fairest, hardworking , friendliest best guy to be around I can remember! He will always represent wonderful memories ! Rest in Peace old friend, I know you will, you will have a lot of friends where you are now too !

  41. George Maxwell says:

    Kim was an athlete’s athlete, a man’s man, a judge’s judge and most importantly one of the finest and kindest men Florida and this nation has ever seen. I was fortunate to play for Kim as one of his linemen from junior high through high school. He knew every player and their assignments on every play. He was our quarterback but in reality he was our coach also. He led through example and encouragement. Eventually, I became an attorney partly because of his example and later became a fellow circuit judge in a different circuit and benefitted from his mentorship and suggestions. While greater glory came to Kim at Florida State and on the bench, to graduates of Melbourne High School he will be remembered as the best Bulldog ever. Only, his family will miss him more.

  42. Jack Henning says:

    Well put George. I remember Kim best from football. One of the last, maybe the last, high school football games we played was against the Gainesville Purple Hurricanes in Melbourne. We led 13 to 7 and with a couple of minutes left they had the ball on our 2 yard line, first and goal. We were in a gap eight defense and I was just to their center’s right. We were going to try to hold them. It was a very emotional time for our football team. Kim was such a valuable star on offense as quarterback that he never played defense but I looked over and there, in the gap on the other side of their center, was our star quarterback playing defensive tackle for the first time. We held them, we won, what a man.

  43. Patsy Atack says:

    He was so kind and gentle speaking to my brother Bill who was dying of cancer at the age of 54. I sat and watched him and saw all the love on his face, broke my heart. He will always be remembered by all who knew him as a kind and thoughtful man.

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