As I sit in the very office occupied by Judge Stevens for so many years and reflect upon his life and career, my mind is flooded by memories. My life intersected in so many respects with Judge Stevens that words come with great difficulty.
Judge Stevens' father and my grandfather were close friends, Judge Stevens and my father and uncles were close friends, Judge Stevens and his father were the family lawyers, and the family relationships go back even before my birth. Judge Stevens wrote a letter of recommendation for me to law school, encouraged me throughout my law school career, administered my oath upon my admission to the bar, shared his wisdom and advice with me during my legal career, and administered my oath when I succeeded him in this office. I shall miss his friendship, and the connection between his life and my past.
Judge Stevens had a unique ability to administer justice and resolve the complicated issues that daily confront rural judges. His methods may have seemed somewhat unorthodox to urban practitioners, but were ideally suited to the resolution of conflicts in the counties of the Toombs Judicial Circuit. He had a knack for getting to the core of a case, recognizing, not only the legal issue, but also the human issues. He used his fatherly, and sometimes grandfatherly, nature to resolve sticky issues that the law alone could not resolve. I shall miss his wisdom and his advice that he so freely shared.
Judge Stevens frequently used humor to defuse moments of courtroom tension. He realized that the best results in legal proceedings were those reached by the parties themselves and quelled many a stormy legal proceeding with his down home approach. The stories of his humor are too numerous to mention here but will remain forever in our memories. I shall miss his sense of humor.
Judge Stevens dearly loved and was totally devoted to his family. He adored Miss Margaret and they shared so much of their lives, including his work on the bench. She was almost always present at every court session supporting and encouraging him in his life's work. Judge Stevens often joked that Miss Margaret actually made a lot of his decision for him (candidly, there were many occasions when the lawyers might have preferred her decisions).
He loved his daughter Jane with all his heart, took immense pride in all she did and was a source of great strength and love every day of her life.
His relationship with his son Bobby was a wonderfully unique example of father-son love. They were practically inseparable, and enjoyed each other in a way coveted by many, but achieved by very few. You could always bring a smile to Judge Stevens' face by mentioning his grandchildren who were the absolute apples of his eye. I shall miss his example of family values.
We are all best known by our works, and Judge Stevens' works are indelibly imprinted upon the Toombs Judicial Circuit. Though he will never again physically be in our courthouses, he will be with us in spirit and influence for many terms of court to come.
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