formally announces his
Judge Woodrow Hatcher will be retiring from the bench on Jan. 6, 2013. He will have served as Jackson County judge for 35 years .- Contributed Photo
Judge Woodrow Hatcher will be retiring from the bench on Jan. 6, 2013.
He will have served as Jackson County judge for 35 years .- Contributed Photo
Judge Woodrow Hatcher, county judge for Jackson County, will retire when his term expires on Jan. 6 after serving for about 35 years.
is one of Florida's
longest serving judges, along with Madison County Judge Wetzel Blair.
grew up on a farm just outside of Marianna.
Hatcher decided to run for county judge in the 1976 election.
wanted to use his
skills to ensure everyone received justice.
"The courts are the last stop as possibilities for fairness are concerned," Hatcher
Hatcher's prior work experience and penchant for innovation helped him implement new programs and technology in the courtroom.
"It was an opportunity to make the system progress," Hatcher
"I'd like to think I had a hand in the progress from where we were 30 years ago to where we are now."
didn't initially understand the new technology coming into the courts, Hatcher
surrounded himself with knowledgeable people.
"I wanted to get the court to the 20th century before the 21st century got here," Hatcher
He was the first Florida judge to use audio-visual technology from first appearance through jury trials.
This is not only a safeguard for the community, but also reduces the cost for case processing.
The case management system established by Hatcher
makes sure fines and restitutions are paid and those on probation are complying with their probation conditions, allowing probation officers to have bigger caseloads.
Jail overcrowding was a constant problem for the county.
worked to implement the public works program.
The program allows defendants to work for the county and cities.
The defendants work off their fines and get a day off their sentences, and the local entities save tax dollars.
A pretrial release program that let defendants support their families and reduced the jail population was also started by Hatcher
The program took into account every defendant's situation and assigned them either conditional release or a monetary bail.
Those under conditional release were given special conditions to keep the community safe.
Programs treating those with domestic violence or substance abuse problems, and educational programs were made available to defendants without using tax dollars by Hatcher
Hatcher also served as chairman or co-chairman of the Conference of County Court Judges for 26 consecutive years.
accomplishments with the conference, he
created defensive driving schools for people with civil traffic violations to avoid points and work on their driving skills.
was awarded a number of honors from his
colleagues, receiving the Special President Award five times for his
improvements to the judiciary and being recognized as the 14th Circuit Court trial judge who made outstanding contributions to better the criminal justice system by the Fraternal Order of Police.
always took time to help other judges understand legislature.