The Second Longest Serving Circuit Judge In Alabama Retires From Dale and Geneva CountyRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Jan 12 2013 9:43 AM
GENEVA and DALE COUNTY: After 37 years of service as Presiding Judge of the Thirty Third Judicial Circuit, Judge P.B. ( Ben ) McLauchlin is retiring effective January 14, 2013.
The retirement is not one of choice but one mandated by law. A person cannot be appointed or elected after the age of 70. This election cycle Judge McLauchlin was past the age of 70.
A courtroom full of friends came together to celebrate with Judge “Ben” and his family. There were many kind words and presentations made to the Judge in the ceremony. At the request of the Dale County Bar, the Dale County Commission has names the courtroom of 37 years where Judge McLauchlin presided “The McLauchlin Courtrooom”.
Judge McLauchlin talked about his years of service. Appointed in 1976, Judge McLauchlin said it was funny what has happened on his retirement day. The Judge described himself as one of the last dinosaurs. He still uses books for research. Having seen the court come from paper to the electronic age, computers, scanning of documents, and now becoming “paperless”. When he arrived at work this morning his Judicial Assistant Melanie was just looking at the computer. When the Judge asked what was the problem he was told the computers were down. Most of the State of Alabama court system was nonfunctional Friday because of the computer system being down.
Judge McLauchlin laughed that he got his revenge on the day of his retirement. The Judge said he still uses paper, talks on the telephone and talks in person and does not text. The Judge laughed that he was warehousing all of his books and would one day be rich as he would be the only one left with books.
Judge McLauchlin is the second longest serving Circuit Judge in Alabama. In the only position which can sentence a person to the Alabama Penitentiary, that of a Circuit Judge, it has been his position the Judge is not the center of attention of the court. It has been his practice to let the lawyers present their evidence and the parties have their day in court. The Judge has never placed time limits on the attorney’s when presenting their case.
Judge McLauchlin has worked to make sure the court is the people’s court. He very much believes in the practice of the jury system and said there should be diligent fights before the jury system is ever replaced.
Judge McLaughlin said he was fortunate to be born to terrific parents in Dothan in 1940. The Judge said he was raised in a great neighborhood in Dothan. He had great teachers and was a graduate of public education, graduating in 1959 from Dothan High School. From DHS he went to the University of Alabama.
The Judge’s major was not law to begin with. He changed while in school and graduated from the University of Alabama in 1966. The Judge moved to Ozark and opened up a law practice. The Judge’s mother was from Ozark.
In 1976 Judge McLaughlin was appointed to the Presiding Judge position. He has remained in the position for 37 years serving both Dale and Geneva Counties.
The Judge said you are only good as those associated with you. He has had great Judicial Assistants and Clerks. The Judge’s court reporter, David Glenn, has served with him since 1976. Glenn is known as “The Judge’s sidekick”.
Judge McLauchlin will continue to have an office in the courthouse. He will continue to handle some complex cases he has left on his docket. The Judge will also be appointed to fill in for Judge’s who have conflicts across the state.
Judge McLaughlin also serves as Chairman of the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission. The entity that makes sure Judges are following the Judicial Canon of Ethics.
Judge McLaughlin thanks all of the people who have supported him in the 37 years, citizens and those who have worked within the system.
He thanks the people, because without citizen involvement the system would not be successful and respected.
Judge Stan Garner
Dale County District Court Judge Stan Garner said he was tasked with what to do for Judge McLauchlin for his retirement. A statue was decided and some protypes were designed. With the help of some computer graphics Judge Garner presented 5 protypes. This was the Judge's favorite.
All in fun. Judge McLaughlin is an avid Alabama fan.
The last picture is the Judge's favorite of Judge Garner's prototypes.