HIGH HONORS: Retired judges’ portraits to adorn courthouse

Published 3:00 am Saturday, April 27, 2019

Eight retired judges will be forever honored in the main courtroom at the Pike County Courthouse with official portraits adorning the walls.

Circuit clerk Jamie Scarbrough said the judges deserved to be memorialized and honored in the place where they all served at one point or another.

“It was important to me to recognize these men that have shaped so many lives with the decisions they had to make; they just really mean a lot to everybody in the court system, all of them do,” Scarbrough said. “They mean so much to me, they impacted my life and so many people in the court system, both with their candid times outside of the courtroom and their utmost professionalism in the courtroom. This was the perfect way to be able to see them, recognize them and honor them every day in that courtroom.”

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Robert Barr spoke in honor of Judge Eris Freeman Paul to begin the ceremony.

“I was called into his office and he gave me the guidance right then to never let tell you your experience doesn’t count,” Barr said. “He told me he believed in my work and that meant so much.”

Terry Butts spoke on behalf of Judge Riley P. Green Jr.

“He was a good man who loved his family and had everyone’s respect as a judge,” Butts said. “He also had a dry wit; he was a good man that you could talk to. And what I admired most: he had guts.”

Joseph Faulk then followed to honor Butts, a retired justice of the Alabama Supreme Court,

“I’ve known him 54 years,” Faulk said. “We met when we were freshmen, going up against the big city guys. He was a great judge. He served well for 18 years as the 12th Judicial Circuit Judge.”

Circuit Judge Jeff Kelley spoke in honor of Gar McAliley.

“He created huge shoes for us to fill,” Kelley said. “We’ve been represented well throughout this state. He set a high standard for us.”

Assistant District Attorney Jon Folmar said he could talk about any of the judges being honored Friday, but he spoke to celebrate Robert Barr specifically.

“HE once asked me ‘What greater function can you have than to lay down your life and sacrifice for others,” Folmar said. “He could have stayed in private practice and made millions, but he chose public service. He’s still serving the public even upon retirement, as our drug court judge.”

Circuit Judge Henry “Sonny” Reagan spoke on behalf of longtime circuit judge Thomas Head III, whom he replaced in office after Head retired.

“Before I returned home to this circuit I spent a number of years in Montgomery in a job where I traveled the state appearing before most of the circuit judges in the state,” Reagan said. “Judge Tom Head was and is the epitome of what a circuit judge should be. Shared on several occasion all about people, that they should always come first. HE walked the walk. Always put them first did not fall into trap of becoming more judicially efficient at expense of the people in his court.”

Sheriff Russell Thomas spoke highly of recently retired district judge William “Bill” Hightower, who retired after 42 years of service, the longest-serving district judge in the state.

“Some people referred to him as ‘Highpower,’” Thomas said. “Like all of these judges, he is a man of high distinction and character.”

Hightower said it was an honor to be recognized among such company. “It was a privilege to serve the people of this county,” Hightower said.

Thad Yancey spoke favorably of former probate judge William “Bill” Stone.

“He was one of the most respected public servants we’ve had in Pike County,” Yancey said. “He affected the lives of many of us. He was always very detail-oriented and I appreciate that. He was the guy to go to if you needed something done exactly right.”

Scarbrough said officials are working ona similar ceremony to be held in Coffee County.