After 23 years on the bench of the 97th District Court, Judge Roger Towery has stepped down. He took some time to talk with Newschannel 6 on Wednesday about his decision to pass the gavel and offer some advice for his successor.
Towery said at age 68 it was time for him to step down and for someone new to take the helm. He said in all his time on the bench some things changed but for the most part the people are the same. He said, "When it was a typewriter and a carbon, you didn't have a lot of copies you were given and you didn't have a whole lot of page. That's one thing that's different, the technology changes. People haven't changed actually, the types of cases are the same."
Judge Towery reflected on one type of case, saying those he remembers aren't always the good ones. He said, "When you have set an execution date and when you have had someone executed by an order that you signed, it gives you a different perspective on the death penalty. It is a more sobering look at the finality of death penalty cases."
I asked Towery if he supported the death penalty and he said, everything else aside, death penalty cases are a huge financial burden on small counties. He added, while every plaintiff and defendant usually believes they're 100% right, that's usually not the case. He said, "Usually life doesn't work out that way, there's shades of gray, not everything is black and white."
Picking up the gavel is long time 97th District Attorney Jack McGaughey. I asked Towery what advice he had for the new judge and he said, "Try to do what you think is the right thing to do within the bounds of the law. Tomorrow there will be another case you'll have to make a decision on. Try not to take everything home with you."
Towery has submitted paperwork to be a fill-in judge, presiding over cases when judges go on vacation or have a conflict. That responsibility could take him anywhere in the state.