Daniel S. Pearson was born in New York in 1930, and spent much of his youth in Mount Vernon, New York, where he was an outstanding high school basketball player. He received his undergraduate degree from Amherst College in Massachusetts, majoring in English. His studies at Amherst were interrupted by the Korean War, during which he served in the Coast Guard. After the war ended, he returned to Amherst and received his degree.
After receiving his law degree from Yale University, he joined the United States Attorney’s Office and later entered the private practice of law. During his career, he received several honors and awards, including the Anti-Defamation League’s Jurisprudence Award, the Order of Barristers Award from the University of Miami, the William H. Hoeveler Ethics and Leadership Award, the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Founders Award and The Florida Bar Appellate Section’s James C. Adkins Award. He was an active member of prestigious professional associations, including the American College of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Trial Advocates, the American Law Institute and the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.
Governor Bob Graham appointed Judge Pearson to the Third District in 1980. He served on the Court until 1989, when he returned to private practice at the Miami office of Holland & Knight, LLP. There he headed the firm’s appellate department. In 1995, he was appointed by a special panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to serve as independent counsel investigating Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown.
He remained involved in athletics throughout his life, enjoying long bicycle trips with groups of friends and his wife, now-retired Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Fredricka “Ricky” Smith. He enjoyed a good tennis match and was coach of his children’s baseball teams. Judges Pearson and Smith and their bicycling companions could often be seen on Sunday mornings along a route through South Miami to a popular restaurant in Cutler Ridge, where they engaged in their own triathlon: biking, talking and eating.
Dan Pearson died at the age of seventy-two on September 9, 2003. He was survived by his wife, Fredericka Smith; his children Liz, Bill and Charlie; step-daughter Deardre; and four grandchildren.