A longtime Jackson County judge announced on Monday he will be retiring on Dec. 31.

A longtime Jackson County judge announced on Monday he will be retiring on Dec. 31.

Jay A. Daugherty, a 16th Judicial Circuit judge for 20 years, will return to private law practice as a full-time mediator and arbitrator in January.

Daugherty has served as a judge for 27 years and was the presiding judge from 2003 to 2004.

One of the few judges nationwide to have earned a master’s degree in judiciary from the National Judicial College at the University of Nevada, Daugherty received a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Gov. John Ashcroft appointed Daugherty to the bench in 1991, and he served as an administrative law judge for seven years and as an assistant Missouri attorney general for three years.

“I am proud to have been a member of one of the best trial courts in the country,” Daugherty said in a statement. “On my departure, I am certainly grateful to have served with so many fine judges and feel blessed that the court’s staff consists of many talented and loyal individuals.”

Daugherty says that he served when “personal computers were a fad” and most courts relied on typewriters and carbon paper.

“We actually used law books to do legal research,” he said.

Judge Peggy Stevens McGraw said Daugherty was “instrumental” in getting the civil case management system going.

“On a personal note, it’s going to be a real loss to me, as I’ve always considered him as someone I could go to for reasonable, well-thought-out advice,” she said.

He has presided over hundreds of jury trials, including complex commercial, construction and business litigation and medical malpractice.

Notable cases were three industrial and environmental hog farm cases and most of the litigation involving allegations of child abuse against the Archdiocese of Kansas City and numerous first-degree murder cases, death penalty cases and cold-case DNA rape cases.

Judge Ann Mesle said that Daugherty did a great job of encouraging community relations between the bench, the bar and the media. He was among the top-rated judges in evaluations done by the Missouri Bar.

Voters retained Daugherty in 1992, 1998, 2004 and 2010.