fsu seal Florida State University



Home >>Meet our Staff >>Talbot D' Alemberte, J.D.

Talbot "Sandy"D' Alemberte, J.D.

Emeritus President/Law Professor

Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte, President Emeritus of The Florida State University, served as President from January 1994 to January 2003.

From 1984 to 1989 D’Alemberte served as dean of the FSU College of Law. Earlier he represented Dade County in the Florida House of Representatives from 1966 to 1972 where he chaired several legislative committees including the Judiciary Committee that drafted and passed a major judicial reform constitutional amendment in 1972. During his legislative service he was recognized as the Outstanding First Term member (1967) and, in his last term, named Most Outstanding Member of the House (1972). After leaving the Florida Legislature, he chaired the Florida Constitution Revision Commission in 1977-1978 and the Florida Commission on Ethics in 1974-75.

During his years of practice, D’Alemberte concentrated on media and public law work and his cases included the proceedings that led to the first rule allowing camera access to courtrooms, representation of Post-Newsweek Stations during the historic FCC license challenges during the Nixon years, service as Chief Counsel in impeachment proceedings against three justices of the Florida Supreme Court, the first litigation involving the Copyright Act of 1976, a number of libel trials and appeals, the representation of the Florida House of Representatives in several constitutional cases, Chief Counsel for a United States Senate Banking Sub-committee investigating HUD and pro bono counsel in four death penalty cases.

D’Alemberte was very much involved in the early days of the modern dispute resolution movement, chairing the first ABA committee on the subject and he has served as a mediator, most notably in the water dispute between Alabama, Florida and Georgia. An award of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution is named for D’Alemberte and another early leader of the dispute resolution movement.

He has been active in the organized bar, serving as President of the American Bar Association (1991-92), President of the American Judicature Society (1982-84) and Chair of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar (1982-83). He chaired several ABA committees including chair of the first dispute resolution committee and the first election reform committee.

Awards D’Alemberte has received include the ABA Medal in 2003, the 2001 Wickersham Award given by the Friends of the Law Library of Congress, the 1996 American Judicature Society’s Justice Award for his efforts to improve the administration of justice in the United States, the 1996 National Council of Jewish Women’s Hannah G. Soloman Award, the 1993 Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers “Perry Nichols” Award, the 1993 Florida Academy of Criminal Defense Lawyers Annual Criminal Justice Award, the 1990 Jurisprudence Award from the Anti-Defamation League of South Florida, the 1987 Florida Bar Foundation medal of Honor, the 1986 National Sigma Delta Chi First Amendment Award, a National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences “Emmy” in 1985 for his work in open government, particularly in the opening of court proceedings to electronic journalists, the 1984 Florida Civil Liberties Union “Nelson Poynter” Award, and the ABA Section of Legal Education Robert J. Kutak Award and the ABA World Order Under Law Award.

In 2007, D’Alemberte received the Tobias Simon Pro Bono Award from the Supreme Court of Florida and was recognized by the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities with the Robert Drinan Award.

Born June 1, 1933, in Tallahassee, D’Alemberte was educated in public schools in Tallahassee and Chattahoochee, Florida. In 1955, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in political science from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and also attended summer school at FSU and the University of Virginia. After service as a naval officer aboard a destroyer for three years, D’Alemberte studied on a Rotary Foundation fellowship at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 1962, he received his juris doctor with honors from the University of Florida where he was named to the Order of the Coif, served as president of the student bar association, was captain of the moot court team, served as articles editor of the University of Florida Bar Review and received the J. Hillis Miller Award as the outstanding law graduate.

D’Alemberte has had long family connections with Florida State University. His grandfather attended the Seminary West of the Suwannee and his mother attended the Florida State College for Women, both predecessor institutions to the Florida State University. He attended summer music camp as a high school student and returned to attend summer school in 1954.

He is the father of two grown children, Gabrielle D’Alemberte, a graduate of the University of Denver Law School, now a lawyer in Miami Dade and Joshua Talbot D’Alemberte, a graduate of his father’s alma mater, the University of the South, a public school teacher in Miami.

D’Alemberte is married to Patsy Palmer, former children’s policy coordinator in Florida Governor Lawton Chiles’ office who is now a lawyer in Tallahassee. She has worked as a journalist, legislative aide, and White House staff member; she holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri in journalism, a master’s degree from the Harvard Divinity School and a master’s degree in conflict resolution from Antioch University. She received her J.D. degree from the College of Law at Florida State University in May 2007.

In addition to his work at the university, D'Alemberte is a partner in the law firm D'Alemberte & Palmer handling mostly appellate matters.