My chosen profession lost one of its finest people this week with the passing of J. Russell “Rusty” Ford at the too young age of 66, after a short and difficult battle with cancer.

Rusty was one of those lawyers who exemplified the adage that the most competent and effective practitioners are also often the most polite, reasonable and humble people.

That was Rusty.

An area solo practitioner for many years, I had the pleasure of having breakfast with Rusty and his lovely wife, Polly, at last summer’s Missouri Bar Solo and Small Firm Conference at the Lake of the Ozarks.

This summer, as I was checking into the same conference, I was right there beside Rusty and Polly again, except it was obvious from his appearance that Rusty was struggling with severe ill health, something I had not known.

I greeted him and asked how he was doing, and he told me of his difficult battle with cancer, upbeat, pleasant and smiling as always. But I saw the sadness in Polly’s eyes behind him as he told me what he was going through, and I’m sure she must have seen the shock and sadness in mine.

Over the years I’ve had a number of matters with Rusty, but his obituary revealed aspects of his life I hadn’t known, but did not find surprising – outstanding student, president of his college student body, standout high school athlete, and energetic and prolific civic volunteer.

Rusty was one of the people that made the legal community, and the world, better.

He’ll be missed.

Unneeded rancor

The vitriol of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh disappoints me greatly, with protesters and participants alike disrupting the proceedings.

I was similarly disappointed by the political shenanigans of the Senate Judiciary Committee in blocking the confirmation process for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, who sits of the same court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, as Judge Kavanaugh.

The partisanship of the legislative branch of government differs greatly from the manner of the judicial branch, as noted by the testimony of Judge Kavanaugh himself regarding his colleague and former nominee, Judge Garland, of whom he said in his testimony: “a great judge ... very careful and hardworking, and we work well together … ”

In fact, the records and backgrounds of the Obama-nominated Garland and the Trump-nominated Kavanaugh appear to be quite similar, and their service as judges on the same court free of the rancor and dissension of the legislative branch that has reared its ugly head in their respective nomination processes.

It’s really too bad the legislative branch cannot see fit to follow suit.

Social-media mess

Speaking of rancor, is anybody else sick of the intensely negative political ads and comments on social media being flung at us this election season?

I am.

If you truly believed all that was said by, on behalf of, and about all of the them, you’d have to believe that every single candidate for public office was a completely unconscionable scumbag.

That seems unlikely to me. At least I hope it isn’t so.

Ken Garten is a Blue Springs attorney. Email him at