Judge Melton Cude


There are other, more formal pictures of him out there, but I liked this one. That smile is Judge Cude. His life ended in a series of bad days after a life of never seeming to have one. He would always greet you with a smile. A real smile. And then he would talk. And talk. More about that in a second. 

If courtrooms could be a joy, his was as close as it came. Whether you be a lawyer, a party or a juror, you felt, well, comfortable.  He knew he could run a court without being some kind of tyrant overlord. No, he knew it was our court, and he was just its caretaker  -- even though he took care of it for 30 years. He believed that everyone deserved to be heard. That everyone deserved respect. He knew being there could already be a bad experience for many, and he didn't need to make it worse when he walked through the courtroom door. 

He granted and denied my motions. Sustained and overruled my objections. But he listened -- oftentimes with a sly smile as he appreciated a subtlety of an argument.

But as much as he liked to listen, like I said, he liked to talk. Let's all admit it, sometimes you had to be somewhere else, but he wasn't going to let you go. He had more, and still more, to tell you.  And oftentimes you felt like you couldn't get away, but it was so crazily entertaining you also wanted to stay and see when it would end. It never really occurred to me that voice would be silenced. We are all invincible, right?

I wish I could hear that voice this morning. Godspeed, my friend.