The city of Blue Springs recently honored long-time Municipal Judge John Jack by naming the courtroom in its new facility for him.
Judge Jack had served as Blue Springs municipal judge for some 42 years before he retired. He has also served as municipal judge for the cities of Grain Valley and Lake Lotawana.
Judge Jack was a great municipal judge.
Municipal courts tend to draw the earthiest elements of any municipality – the troubled, the troublemakers, the addicted, and parties who have had some connection with a lingering dispute or crime.
These include victims, witnesses, defendants facing municipal charges, feuding neighbors, perpetrators of petty violence, police officers and lawyers. Sometimes, it isn’t pretty.
But Judge Jack always seemed to have that knack for the proper handling of people and circumstances that each situation called for.
Judge Jack was always aware that the municipal court might be the only exposure some citizens have to the legal system, and he thought it was important that the functioning of the court be projected as fair, important, and worthy of respect.
And on a personal note, John has always been one of my favorite people in the whole wide world, who, away from his courtroom duties is personable, kind and hilariously funny, able to keep those around him chuckling and laughing the whole way.
His marvelous sense of humor belied the no-nonsense approach he displayed when dealing with people who needed a stern word or two or three from the judge.
Going to lunch with John has always been a fun time. He’s always known that in most of the restaurants in town, there are usually one or two members of the kitchen staff who have been before him in court. So, he’s extra careful about that.
I’m always extra careful too, and make it a point to tell our server to be sure to let the kitchen know that I am having the cheeseburger and the judge is the one having the fish sandwich. A guy can’t be too careful.
In addition to being a municipal judge, John has also been a practicing lawyer and a longstanding member of the legal community in Blue Springs.
And, as fate would have it, there have always been a number of types of matters that he handled that I didn’t handle, and vice versa. And so, over the years, we have each had occasion to refer matters back and forth.
I can say with complete honesty that I always heard back when I referred someone to John that they were extremely satisfied with the way he took care of their matter, from both a professional and personal standpoint. No surprise.
But on my list of great professional experiences was a case John and I worked on together in north Missouri.
It was his case, and I think he got me involved because I am from up there and I speak the language. Plus, I could run pretty fast back then and I had a pickup truck, two important factors when you’re suing people in the rural north Missouri.
We spent days traveling through the countryside, investigating facts and interviewing witnesses. My truck got stuck on several occasions and a few times we ended up in mud up to our knees. Aww, the glamor of a career in the law. But we had a lot of fun, and we did a lot of good, too, and in the end we prevailed in getting a family farm back to its family from which it had been nefariously liberated.
Good time, great fun.
Now that my friend and colleague, long-time local Municipal Judge John Jack is retired, it is a most fitting honor that the Blue Springs Courtroom be bestowed with his name.
Ken Garten is a Blue Springs attorney. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.