Judges’ Portraits To Hang In Justice Building

Framed photos of past county judges hang on the wall in the lobby on the second floor of the Kosciusko County Justice Building. From (L to R) are: Charles Robert Burner, judge of county court from Dec. 23, 1975, to Oct. 13, 1977; Loren Kenrid Collier, judge of county court from Oct. 13, 1977, to Aug. 10, 1979; Byron Lee Tinkey, small claims referee of county court from Jan. 4, 1988, to Dec. 31, 1996; and James Carpenter Jarrette, judge of county court and Superior Court II from Sept. 4, 1979, to Dec. 31, 2014. Retired Judge Joe Sutton’s portrait will be added to the wall after Sutton served as Superior Court III judge for the past 24 years. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.

Four portraits of former county judges hang in the lobby on the second floor of the Kosciusko County Justice Building.

Recently retired Superior Court III Judge Joe Sutton’s portrait will be added thanks to retired Judge James Jarrette, who also made a pitch to the county commissioners Tuesday to have more historical displays up.

Jarrette said Sutton retired from the bench after serving 24 years and he had the privilege of serving 18 years.

“And I will tell you that the county was absolutely lucky to have had him (Sutton) as a judge serving Kosciusko County. I had the opportunity over the years to deal with lots of regional judges and folks here, and Joe Sutton set the bar probably about as high as it could be. One of the most honorable men, one of the most thorough judges and very well respected regionally and by his peers,” Jarrette said.

Bob Burner was the first judge for the county court in 1976. County courts were established in each county then to handle small claims, misdemeanors and “that sort of thing,” Jarrette said.

A bit of a history buff, Jarrette said when he would travel to other county courthouses he would see historical pictures of judges who served in those counties but Kosciusko County had none.

“I saw it as opportunity, with the county court starting with Bob Burner being the first judge, we had that historic opportunity to start photographing history of those that have served in that court,” Jarrette said.

Burner was the first county judge, appointed in 1976. Before his term was over, he was appointed to Superior Court I. Loren Collier then became judge, but had health issues and Jarrette was appointed to finish out Collier’s term. The case loads continued to increase so a small claims referee position was created and Byron Tinkey was put into that job. The case loads continued to increase and the referee position was eliminated and Superior Court III was created with Sutton named judge. Burner’s, Collier’s, Tinkey’s and Jarrette’s portraits hang already on the wall.

Explorer Van provided the oak scrap wood to create a dozen frames for the portraits. Al Disbro provided the photographs of the judges.

“With Joe retiring, I think it’s suitable for him to join that group,” Jarrette told the commissioners, pulling out Sutton’s framed photograph to hang. He said the Justice Building is the commissioners to control and he asked them for permission to include Sutton’s portrait on the wall.

“I would like you guys to accept them, on behalf of the county, and make them yours. And perhaps encourage the continuance of this tradition of this line of judges as they serve,” Jarrette said.

He also said he didn’t think it would be a bad idea to encourage the other courts to do the same thing to commemorate the service of previous judges who have served in those courts.

Commissioner Brad Jackson said he thought that was an “excellent” idea and asked Jarrette to talk to the other judges to see if they were willing. Jarrette said he was willing. Jackson also mentioned getting a portrait of Superior Court I Judge David Cates up. Cates unexpectedly died Dec. 9.

The commissioners approved the portraits being put up for all county judges who have served.

County Administrator Marsha McSherry said it would be her pleasure to make sure Sutton’s portrait gets hung up in the lobby with the other four previous judges.