Judge remembered for kindness, ease with people

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, November 15, 2017

From its inception in the late 1970s, John Paul Moore sat on the district court bench in Clark and Madison counties.

For 26 years, he tried to relate to those people in his court, to respect them and to be fair.

Moore, passed away Saturday, Nov. 11, at age 70.

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Tammy Moore Thompson, one of Moore’s daughters, said he graduated from Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky College of Law at age 22 after a combined five and a half years of school. A Sunday school teacher in Lexington connected him with some attorneys in Winchester, she said, and he and wife Ruth moved to Clark County.

After starting in private practice, Thompson said he was appointed as police judge. When the position was eliminated and Kentucky’s court system was reformed into district and circuit courts, Moore was county judge pro-tem for two years before he was elected as the first district judge for Clark and Madison counties in 1977.

“We were all part of the campaign process,” Thompson said. “That was a fun process. He was the consummate politician. He was serious about meeting the people.”

Thompson said she and her sisters often accompanied her father on trips to country stores, town festivals and pancake suppers throughout the two counties.

“It gave us a chance to meet the people of Clark and Madison counties,” she said. “He enjoyed serving the communities of Winchester, Richmond and Berea. He wanted them to know they were important to him.”

For the next 26 years, Moore remained on the district court bench. He ran once for circuit court, she said, but stayed where he was.

“He was so well suited for the district court bench,” she said. “That was his niche. He was so good in dealing with people and making them feel like they mattered. That was the place he needed to be.”

Thompson said they would often meet people in the community who appeared before Moore in criminal cases, and they would be friendly.

“He treated them like he was their friend,” she said.

Retired district court and family court judge Jeff Walson said kindness was the biggest lesson he learned after working with Moore for about eight years.

“I always saw him treat people well and be kind,” Walson said. “As a young judge, I wanted to be kind but hold people accountable. I never saw anyone get mad at him, even if he put them in jail.”

After he retired from the bench in 2001, he started Moore’s Mediation, in which he would mediate court cases.

“He was cut out for that — bringing people together,” Walson said. “He really, genuinely liked people. That’s a good attribute for someone in public service.”

Aside from that, he was also a frequent babysitter of his grandchildren, Thompson said.

“He was hands on,” she said. “He was definitely a nurturer. The grandchildren were the most important things in his life.”

He was also instrumental in the Clark County Academic Boosters, Thompson said, helping raise money to implement advanced placement courses at George Rogers Clark High School and offer letters for academic achievement, not just athletic achievements, she said.

“He lived a full life,” Thompson said. “He wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. today at First United Methodist Church in Lexington.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or call 859-759-0051.

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