From the Bench

Circuit Judge R. Brent Elliott’s “From the Bench” is a series of articles designed to provide the public with a better understanding of the judicial system. 

Few remember the words of Edward Everett. Billions are familiar with Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  Everett was the featured speaker at the dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery that followed the epic battle to preserve a nation.  The Massachusetts statesman spoke for over two hours before Lincoln took just two minutes to deliver one of the most memorable messages in the history of mankind.  Everett later told Lincoln, “I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.” 

The 43rd Judicial Circuit was recently honored by a visit from Missouri Supreme Court Judge Mary Russell when she addressed the Chillicothe Rotary Club.  As I watched her explain the intricacies of our judicial system and rationale behind difficult decisions, I knew how Edward Everett must have felt.  Judge Russell provided more information in 15 minutes than I have accomplished in hundreds of articles related to court operations.

Judge Russell has served as Chief Justice on Missouri’s highest court. She has accomplished much since her childhood days milking cows on the family farm near Hannibal.  The Judge has worked tirelessly to educate the public on the importance of fair and impartial courts.  To that end, Judge Russell and the Civic Education Committee recently produced a short video designed to be watched by jury panels as they await the start of a trial.  

This education device will be made available to all judges of the 43rd Judicial Circuit and they will, in turn, implement its presentation to as many potential jurors as possible.  I trust those of you who appear for jury duty will find the video helpful and informative.

Look for the next From The Bench where I will address another of Judge Russell’s efforts to improve our court system through the 43rd Circuit’s “Truancy Court.”

Personal Note:  I was delighted to hear Chillicothe resident Marvin Holcer was recently presented the “Silver Service Award” by Missouri’s Lieutenant Governor.  It is the highest honor in the State for Senior Citizen Service in their community.   Marvin’s daughter, Lori Keller, is my neighbor. The apple did not fall far from the tree. I have personally witnessed Lori’s tireless volunteer efforts on behalf of church, school, and our DeKalb County communities.  Also, happy 94th birthday to Vic Litton of Lock Springs.  My father used to tell him “only the good die young.”  Dad said Vic will live forever.


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