County courts will miss special work of two judges

Lycoming County court is in the process of losing decades of firm, fair rulings from its bench.

Judge Dudley N. Anderson retired at the start of 2018 and his replacement will be determined in an election this year. And Judge Richard A. Gray announced recently he will be stepping down in the middle of his second term this summer.

Judge Anderson, retired Judge Kenneth D. Brown and Gray himself will take up some of the workload as senior judges before Judge Gray’s seat is contested in 2019. But eventually, their permanent seats on the bench will be occupied by others. And their manner of conducting court will be difficult to measure up to.

Judges are the referees of our legal system. They are expected to be fair and flexible while perfectly interpreting and ruling according to the law.

If that sounds easy, it’s not. And like referees, as long as this legal gymnastics is executed correctedly, it goes almost unnoticed. No messy, controversial appeals and drawn-out situations. No national embarrassments.

That’s a tough trick to pull off given the myriad of circumstances these judges deal with – domestic misbehavior, drug violations, family divisions, violence and civil entanglements of all kinds. Both these judges have handled all of the nuances of thousands of court circumstances with reliability and maturity.

When they are completely off the bench, the county courts will be missing their special presence. Our best hope is that there are two more like them in Lycoming County.