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SJA dedicates courtroom to former Fort Riley judge

By Amanda Kim Stairrett | SJA.Mag | February 08, 2012

Judge John Thomas Reid's friends and Family agreed he was a humble man who shied away from the spotlight, but he would be thrilled about an honor bestowed upon his memory Jan. 24 at a dedication ceremony at Fort Riley.

Fort Riley's Staff Judge Advocate hosted the ceremony to name a courtroom in Clausen Hall for Reid, who served as the U.S. Magistrate judge at Fort Riley from 1987 to 2004. He died Nov. 16, 2008.

Reid's wife, Sharon, daughter, Jennifer Reid, and son-in-law, Todd Tedesco, attended the dedication, along with judges and lawyers from across the state of Kansas.

Reid traveled to Fort Riley 25 times a year for dockets on the first and third Thursday of every month, said Judge Karen Humphreys, Chief Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.

During his visits to Fort Riley to preside over cases, Reid loved meeting Soldiers, Jennifer said.

"He loved Fort Riley," Todd added.

A plaque that will hang outside the courtroom highlighted Reid's service to Fort Riley. It read: "The dedication of this courtroom honors Judge Reid's unwavering commitment to the fair administration of criminal justice and his distinguished duty to Fort Riley for 17 years in the management of the criminal cases during his service. He earned the respect of the legal community, the affection of his colleagues and a reputation for fairness, compassion, wit, intelligence and patience."

Reid was the longest-serving magistrate judge at Fort Riley, and received the Commander's Award for Public Service in November 2002. During his funeral, Fort Riley Soldiers provided a military honor guard, Humphreys said.

Two judges, one of them Humphreys, replaced Reid upon his retirement. As they observed him during court proceedings, Humphreys said it was quite clear he took great care to conduct the hearings with genuine courtesy and dignity.

"He had a strong purpose in making each defendant feel that his case was important and that the docket should never be conducted like a high volume cattle call," she said. "He honored the words of Socrates in his approach: 'Four things belong to a judge – to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly and to decide impartially.'"

Reid set a high bar for how the criminal docket at Fort Riley should be managed, Humphreys said.

For Reid's loved ones, the dedication was about honoring a man for whom they were proud.

"I'm just really touched," Sharon said. "It means a lot to our Family."

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