Bonny Kaslow (B.K.) Roberts was born poor in 1907 in Sopchoppy in Wakulla County, Florida.  He was a land speculator and ran a car dealership in Tallahassee in the 1930s.  After graduating from UF law school in 1928 he practiced law in Tallahassee representing among others moonshiners and Ed Ball, politically connected point man for the DuPont family.  While practicing law in Florida's capital city, Roberts became a friend and advisor to numerous political movers and shakers.  In 1940 he managed a losing gubernatorial campaign for former Ku Klux Klan member Fuller Warren.  When Warren later became governor in 1948, he appointed Roberts to the Florida Supreme Court where Roberts served until 1976, including three different two-year terms as chief justice beginning in 1953.  Warren renounced racism after being elected governor.


Roberts was a Coast Guard veteran with a long record of public service.  He is credited with restructuring Florida's jumbled court system into the four-tiered arrangement still used today, and also with creating Florida's public defender system which provides lawyers to criminal defendants who cannot afford representation.

After his stint as justice ended, Roberts returned to private practice, becoming a founding partner with Roberts, Miller, Baggett, LaFace, Richard & Wiser in 1976 and later retiring when the firm merged with the large statewide law firm Greenberg & Traurig in 1992.  Today, some colleagues who worked with Roberts in his post-justice law firms describe him as an unrepentant racist until his death, while others note he later expressed regret for his opinions blocking Virgil Hawkins from attending law school and bore Hawkins no ill will.  His tombstone describes Roberts as the founder of the FSU College of Law.