One of the last judges in the state, who never held a law degree, has retired. The Honorable Woodrow W. Hatcher spent his last day on the bench Monday in Marianna.
He's seen a lot of changes dating all the way back to the 1970's and after 36 years on the bench, 14th Judicial Circuit Judge Woodrow W. Hatcher is calling it a career. "At the end of the day, I'll be back to Woody Hatcher."
What many would call a bitter sweet day, Hatcher called "Monday." "No different than the other days. Of course I've had a lot of goodbyes."
He presided over court. "All rise for the honorable Woodrow W Hatcher presides, court come to order".
And enjoying a farewell lunch he and carved out some time to talks to us about his years on the bench.
"Technology was one of the things that I had engaged in. I advocated that we needed to get into the 20th century before the 21st century got here because we were still operating in ways that had not made any changes."
In 1988 Judge Hatcher implemented audio-visual technology to process cases from First Appearance through Arraignment without inmates ever having to leave the jail. "I can sit in my court and do court proceedings in any county in the 14th circuit."
His courtroom was the first in the state to utilize the technology. "It's a matter of expediency, matter of safety- it worked out very nicely.
He was also the first court to develop a pre-trial release program. And Judge Hatcher is proud of his record of keeping the system moving. "That was a goal that I had back in 1976, that there would never be a backlog. Courts run with a backlog for the most part. We've never had a backlog In 36 years.”
But for those sad to see him leave, Hatcher's not going far. "I'm moving across the street. I have an office across the street there and there's a number of things I've been approached as far as endeavors."
Hatcher says he heard more than 200-thousand cases in his 36 years on the bench.