Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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January 14, 2013

Man of the Year Ray ‘absolutely surprised’

By CHRIS AGEE

Retired 29th District Judge Jerry D. Ray said the usual morning ritual of bringing in the newspaper led to a shock Dec. 30 as he discovered he was named the Index's Man of the Year.

"I was absolutely surprised," he said. "There were several close friends who, as I think back on it, were acting like girls in the sixth grade. [They were] dying to tell me but nobody spoiled the surprise."

The announcement came just two days after Ray named his successor, Santo attorney Mike Moore. Ray served 12 years as district judge, following eight years as district attorney.

After spending much of the past two decades at the Palo Pinto County Courthouse, Ray said his retirement has not yet begun in earnest.

"It's only been 10 days," he said in an interview Thursday, adding a busy schedule has not afforded him "a normal day yet."

Even in retirement, Ray said he plans to continue serving as a part-time judge.

"Texas has a neat system whereby they utilize retired judges to be assigned as visiting judges to sit in courts anywhere in the state," he said. "That way you can fill in as needed if there's a judge on vacation, a conflict of interest, or there's just a huge backlog and an empty courtroom somewhere."

Though he was an experienced attorney in private practice prior to being elected district attorney, Ray said his transition into the role of prosecutor led to some eye-opening realizations.

"When I went to the courthouse, I became more acutely aware of crimes against children," he said. "It really shocked me – even being fairly worldly – as to how much abuse of children there was."

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