Wednesday:) Wisdom of Solomon, Patience of Job, and Kindness of a Stranger

16 Jan

“He who is right in his walk is sure in his steps, but he who takes the wrong way will be found out.”

~Solomon

*************

Monday morning, I was on a mission of mercy, I went over to the Collin County Courthouse to help out my friend and neighbor, Mr. Mike. He had jury duty Monday morning, but he was stranded out of town and couldn’t get a flight out in time to get there. He had no way of calling or contacting anyone, so I picked up his yellow summons card and went over there to explain the situation and make sure he didn’t get arrested and sent to prison. (Just kidding… maybe not.)

I waited outside the closed double doors along with a throng of about one hundred other restless people. When I approached one of the deputies collecting summons cards, I asked who I could speak to about an emergency absence. Then, I waited in another long line until I reached a glassed window. I explained that I was there for my neighbor who was stranded out of town because of weather and couldn’t attend. The very nice clerk looked up the card number. I said, “He wasn’t sure what to do, and was in a panic because there was no way to call, so I volunteered to come down and explain. I said that if he got arrested and thrown in jail that I’d bake some brownies with a file in them.”

I’m not sure if she smiled or not, but she looked up and said, “Tell you what I’m going to do. We seem to have plenty of jurors available today, so I will just dismiss him.” I thanked her profusely and scurried out. Yay! (The kindness of a stranger.)

Seeing as I was already at this beautiful new courthouse, I decided to walk around, then see if I could sit in on a few cases in the courtroom of my friend, Judge John Roach Jr.

The last time I was at the courthouse, a couple of years ago, I caught Judge John in between cases, and he invited me to come up and sit in his chair, but I declined and settled for a selfie. This time, the cases were already lined up, so I just sat and watched the process. No selfie op.

As I sat in the front row, I couldn’t help but think that everyone should spend at least an hour in a random courtroom. So much goes on in our community that you have no idea about. I was so impressed with the entire court system, but most of all, with the exemplary decisions made by Judge John Roach, Jr.

The wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, and the kindness of a stranger is what best describes what I witnessed in the courtroom. We are very fortunate to have people like Judge John sitting on the bench.

THE JUDGE

Judge Roach was elected to serve as Judge of the 296th District Court in 2006, taking office on January 1, 2007.

As a general jurisdiction judge he presides over felony criminal, family law, civil litigation cases and cases involving Child Protective Services. He has disposed of over 20,000 cases in the last 10 years. Judge Roach has the lowest reversal rate of any judge in Collin County according to Westlaw legal research website.

In addition to his regular duties as Judge, Judge Roach has made significant changes to the judicial processes in Collin County through the use of technology. He developed the Felony Video Plea Program, with the cooperation of many other officials and department heads, which uses videoconferencing technology to connect the secured jail facility and the courthouse. This connection eliminates the need to have felony prisoners transported to the courthouse for plea hearings. This has decreased the potential liability to the County, made Sheriff Department employees who transfer prisoners safer, has made the employees and general public using the courthouse safer and has saved in excess of $500,000. The Program has received national recognition. Judge Roach has the opportunity to consult other counties in implementing this technology and has worked with local Legislators to make changes in the law to keep up with technology.

Judge Roach also developed the Mental Health Managed Counsel Program which developed specific protocols in handling criminal cases involving mentally ill defendants. He was instrumental is applying for and receiving a four-year matching grant from the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. Once the four-year grant had expired, the efficiency and cost-savings the Program has had for Collin County were so significant, the Program has now been established as its own Department in Collin County. The Program has received recognition throughout the country and is the model for how counties handle cases involving the mentally ill.

Judge Roach has also been chosen by his fellow judges to serve on the Collin County Purchasing Board. He also serves on the Collin County Technology and Security Committees.

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