time to say so long ~ u.s. district court ~ montana

MarveLes Art StudiosBlogs, Photography 18 Comments

In 1986, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court was flooded with paper and new cases after Congress passed the Ch.12 Bankruptcy Act, and they were hiring. As a rancher’s wife, our family needed income in those same years, and job hunting I went. The criteria for the new clerk? 1) one who needed a job; 2) a family to support, and 3) no “fancy” college degree, because Mike Bell, Clerk of Court, wanted someone who would stick with the job, {happily working}, filing away the two foot-high stacks of bankruptcy claims, and copy files for Judge Peterson, who sat in Butte. I was very grateful to have the job and I remember how excited I was to pay $300 cash for a new washer and dryer soon after! 

Three years later, after the bankruptcy office closed in Great Falls, I was hired by Clerk of Court, Lou Aleksich, transferring to U.S. District Court. I became the jury clerk, and assumed civil courtroom deputy duties. Soon after, I clerked the “Big Bud” jury trial {involving a Havre, Montana, tractor company}. There were an overwhelming twenty-five, large black binders, four boxes of depositions, and it took four weeks to try.

miss suzy… super sweet lady!!!  my “cubby buddy!” 

my sweet friends and co-deputy clerks… megan and traci.  love em!

 One of my early civil trials was quite dramatic; an insurance case. First, my mother-in-law was selected to sit as a juror in that case, and during the closing arguments, one lawyer called the other a “fraud.” And, we almost had a hung jury. In those days, trials often continued into Saturday, and at that time, GF had just received a brand new {large} computer. Judge Hatfield asked me that Saturday to type the Allen Charge on the “magic machine” as he called it. Other notable civil trials were the “The Turkey Fire” and the huge ARCO civil case, a bench trial that took the better part of a year to try. 

havin’ some fun messin’ around in the courtroom!

 A very old, dented, and quite beat-up, “black metal box” served as our “master jury wheel” in 1989. It was stored in the vault, and in it were 200 names of qualified jurors. To summon, I would pull out names of people I thought would be good jurors, and one day Judge Hatfield remarked in his welcoming statements, “my, but we have a lot of famous names here today.” {it was a unique take on randomness} and I later found out I was not supposed to look at the names before I pulled them! In those days each summons, as well as the envelopes, certified mailing list, payment vouchers, etc., were individually typed on IBM “selectric” typewriters. 

i’ll be back!!  {bringin’ treats ~ yes!!}

When wordPerfect software came to the court, I helped develop a method to create “merged” files, formatted to fit all those forms, and eventually we wrote our own in-house jury program, created in the dBase III data system. For that “new age” accomplishment, I received Judge Hatfield’s Chief Judge Award in June of 1993.  Since that time, I’ve been honored to receive two other Chief Judge’s Awards, one from Judge Molloy, and last year, from Judge Christensen.  

quite the “card” from my darling girlfriends, huh!!  isn’t this the best??!!!  I love, loved it!!!

Deputy Clerks are not only the backbone of the court, they are the heart of it. They are Servant Leaders, for a good servant is a leader, and a good leader is a servant to all, as they are constantly surrounded with change and challenge, serving judges, law clerks, secretary’s, lawyers, and jurors, and balancing complicated administrative procedures and record-keeping. Adapting is what we do best, from jury systems to electronic courtrooms, monitoring and running every conceivable computer, audio, video, document, camera, and technical evidence program. It’s a big job. I have always believed a courtroom deputy is best described much as a baseball player — you’d better have a plan in place when the ball is hit to you, no matter the position you play.

sara makes the coolest cakes!  {yum!}

I am grateful to not only survived, but to have thrived here. I have been amazingly blessed by many hard-working and committed professionals here in the court, many of whom have become lifelong friends to me. Much of life, if not all of it, is about relationship, and as I leave this court setting, I cherish and take with me those gifts of sweet friendship, and I am so very thankful.

jan n me

taylor!  such a nice guy, and so kind ~ thanks so much!

some of the wonderful guys who are the security for our court… great guys, good guys ~ kevin, tommy, marky!

Retirement is an exciting spring board for me — to more freely pursue dreams I’ve nurtured for many years… to play and work in venues I love: teaching, making art, homemaking, photography, blogging and quilting — to continue to explore, serve, lead and be challenged. It’s a Great Adventure, full of God’s amazing grace. I’m saddling up, hoping to blaze new trails — to “see what I can see!” 

I am thankful for the gifts.  

suzy, megan, me, gretchen, traci, athena!
“i’ll be back!”
soli deo gloria!

Comments 18

  1. Wow, what a great way to tell the story of your work life and how meaningful all those relationships are that form along the way! Good luck to you in this new phase of life…I can't wait to see what new creative masterpieces you come up with now that you have more time to create!

  2. Wow, what a great way to tell the story of your work life and how meaningful all those relationships are that form along the way! Good luck to you in this new phase of life…I can't wait to see what new creative masterpieces you come up with now that you have more time to create!

  3. Oh, wow – retirement! Congratulations. Opening a new chapter in your life will be amazing! Big smiles for you!

  4. Wow! I love reading this about your job. You work with fabulous people! I know you'll miss them (and visit often). That cake tells the tale, yes?

  5. I had sooooo much fun reading this post! Congratulations on your retirement! Hope it is all you want it to be.
    (When you eat your card, and I know I would, just snip the end, carefully, and leave the wrapper in tact, on the card. Then hang that card in your studio where you candy be cheered by it every day.)

  6. How special! and how exciting to look back with satisfaction and ahead to surprises. You are blessed because you are a blessing! Ride on!

  7. What a great post!! And what a great job you had the opportunity to serve.
    Thanks for sharing so much about what you did. The card is awesome!! Don't eat everything all at once 🙂

  8. What a fantastic retirement party and farewell. Congratulations Leslie, and hope all your dreams and creativity are filled with tons o fun, fantastic friendships, and oodles of love. Can't wait to see what you will be creating in your colorful, artistic, and creative journey! Now you can have enjoy some "Leslie" time!

  9. What a great read and interesting look at your professional life. It's quite an accomplishment. Lots of history there.
    Now to see what you will do with the rest of your life.

  10. CONGRATULATIONS LESLIE!!! A job done excellently, wonderful group to work with and they are truly going to miss you. I agree with all the other comments.
    Always good to read your posts in my email! :))
    God Bless and have tons of fun!!
    ~ Christina in Cleveland

  11. Congratulations on all of your accomplishments Leslie… What a fantastic farewell post. It looks like you will be extremely missed… Can't wait to see what wonderful things you have in store for us…. Happy Retirement! Xo

  12. Best going away card ever….congrats on making the time to be who you want to be in your next journey in this lofe. xox

  13. Congratulations Leslie on a job well done and exciting new horizons. Wishing you joy and creativity each day of the rest of your life.

  14. I loved reading your story. What a fascinating work life you had. Great photos and a fabulous cake. I love that last photo of all the ladies. Happy retirement 🙂

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