If the Honorable Donald R. Noland wants to rock, he can do it in the new rocking chair presented to him Friday by representatives from the Crawford County Bar Association.

If the Honorable Donald R. Noland wants to rock, he can do it in the new rocking chair presented to him Friday by representatives from the Crawford County Bar Association.

The gift was made during a reception in recognition of his retirement as district court judge, 11th Judicial District.

The retiring judge also received a framed certificate from the Kansas Supreme Court, presented by Justice Lee A. Johnson.

A Pittsburg State University graduate who obtained his juris doctor from Washburn University, Noland practiced law from 1976 until he was appointed as a judge in 1991.

The Hon. A.J. Wachter noted that, in “The Godfather” movie, the heads of the various crime families attended the funeral of Mafia don Vito Corleone not so much out of respect but to be sure that he was dead.

“We are here because we have come to respect our Don as a jurist, citizen and consummate gentleman,” Wachter said. “He can explain to us how many bass or other species of fish he’s going to catch in his retirement or whether his wife and his Harley will be able to withstand it.”

Attorneys Steve Angermayer and Mark Fern represented the Crawford County Bar Association.

“I have referred to Judge Noland as ‘Judge Search Engine,’” Fern said. “We would say, ‘Judge, I have this case,’ and he would say, ‘Come on in,’ and he’d have that case. What we will miss is that preparedness. Judge Noland is always just a little bit better prepared than you are. For the past three years, since he’s talked about retiring, I’ve tried to talk him out of it.”

Angermayer has appreciated Noland’s approachability, and credited the judge with playing a big part in shaping his career.

“I was introduced to Judge Noland, and two days later I was at his house watching pro wrestling,” he said.
When it was his turn to speak, Noland handed out praise of his own.

“This part of the state has been blessed with judges so good to work with, good hard-working, fair judges,” he said. “I also want to thank the clerks in Girard. The attorneys know that the clerks run the court. I have truly enjoyed working with the attorneys. Our attorneys here stack up against the best attorneys in the state.”

The retiring judge was most gratified by his work with the Juvenile Court, which works to reunite families when appropriate.

“That’s where you have the chance to do the most good,” Noland said. “Kansas has a fundamentally good system and we have a good team with the guardian ad litem, SRS, TFI and the PSU Truancy Council. I will miss the glow you get, the sense of satisfaction you get at putting a family back together.”

He also asked if there were any foster parents present at the reception.

“I want to single out my heroes,” Noland said. “Foster parents are the bedrock of the child care program in Kansas.”
He also decided to step up on his soap box one more time to speak on an issue that troubles him deeply. Noland said that an independent judicial system is crucial to a functioning democracy.

“We must strive against attempts to compromise judicial independence and attempts to introduce politics into the selection process,” Noland said. “I don’t mean this to be a downer, but it is so important. We will all pay for it, if not in our lifetime, in our children’s lifetime.”