By CHRIS AGEE
The end of the year also marks the end of an era at the Palo Pinto County Courthouse.
Retiring 29th Judicial District Judge Jerry D. Ray has been a presence at the historic courthouse for two decades, including eight years as district attorney and 12 as district judge.
He announced last year he would not seek re-election and led his successor, Santo attorney Mike Moore, in his swearing in ceremony Friday afternoon.
Those who know Ray best and worked with him during his career credit many traits for his success in the judicial system.
Moore said Ray made a major impact in the county through his position and feels a deep appreciation for law contributed to that legacy.
“Most people believe the distinguishing feature of Judge Ray is his superior knowledge of the law,” Moore said, “but if you look deeper you see his true passion for the law.”
That passion, he added, “is what made him a great lawyer and a great judge. We are privileged as a county that he chose to exercise his passion in a public way – both as district attorney and as district judge.”
He explained Ray left big shoes to fill and he plans to continue on the trajectory his predeceasor set.
“The bar is set high and I look forward to carrying on the tradition set by Judge Ray,” Moore continued. “We are all better because of the impact he made in public service.”
In announcing his candidacy last year, Moore told the Index he has appeared before Ray on numerous occasions and looked to the retiring judge’s service as an inspiration for his own.
Ray “is very knowlegable of the law,” he said, explaining lawyers “can’t go into his court without being prepared.”
Characterizing him as “fair and impartial to both sides,” Moore said Ray is a role model for anyone seeking the position.