Southern Utah News Articles
Valley judge retiring
Utah law mandates judges retire upon reaching the age 75, and my time arrives in October 2017. It is almost as if there is a presumption that one’s cognitive function has so deteriorated by that time, they have to bring in someone younger. I have therefore warned court personnel not to stand too close to me when the fateful day arrives, in case smoke emits from my ears and brain synapses are heard crackling and popping.
Judging as a profession has not been without its faultfinders. Recognizing this fact, I have always worked hard to adhere to strict ethical standards, to treat people with consideration, and to run an efficient courtroom.
When people use the term judgmental, they are being critical, which is ironic, since to be judgmental means to be excessively critical of another, often in an uninformed, mean-spirited, or gossipy sort of way. When I first was appointed to a judgeship in Florida in 1988, I worried about this. I didn’t think of myself as a judgmental person. But a judge who is doing the job the way it should be done is not a judgmental individual in the negative sense. A judge makes judgments, to be sure, but in the context of applicable laws, rules of court and sentencing guidelines.
My good fortune is that I have had the unusual opportunity to be a judge in two different states. I was surprised to discover, the second time around, here in the Orderville Justice Court, how vastly different the two experiences have been. The dissimilarity rests primarily upon the contrast between sitting on the bench in a big city versus a small town. In Orlando, my courtroom was usually packed, the docket lengthy, the lawyers verbose, and the need to be well-organized paramount. By managing my time, I was managing the time of everyone involved, a practice for which I believe everyone was grateful, since the reality is that no one wants to go to court, or be there any longer than they have to. But the down side of that in a busy court is that too often an assembly line effect can result.
In a small town court, on the other hand, a judge has the luxury of being able to take whatever time is necessary to flesh out as much information as needed to make a fully informed decision that is both sympathetic to the circumstances and reasonably reflective of the facts. As a consequence, much to my amazement, I came to realize that, here in Utah, I became a better judge than I had been in Florida, or at least a more thorough one.
Having previously retired as a Florida judge, then a second time some years later as a practicing lawyer, I now face retirement for the third time. It has been my great privilege to serve for seven and a half years here, and I appreciate the opportunity given me by the people of Orderville, Mt. Carmel and Glendale, to have served my community in this way.