Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

June 11, 2013

The law, judge a perfect match

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — The law and John Blake have been a perfect match for some time. Now his passion in a long career as an attorney and judge here in Pauls Valley will soon turn the page to that next chapter.

Blake, who will turn 69 years old this fall, has decided to leave the post of Garvin County’s associate district judge after July 31.

Clearly expecting to work right up through his last day in office, Blake will soon close out a nine-year tenure as one of the county’s three judges.

His early departure with one year still remaining in this term also means that next judge will come in the same way he did — as an appointment by the governor.

Even with his decision to step down next month Blake still flashes a big smile and warms up to the idea of offering some of his thoughts about his many years as a Pauls Valley attorney with the last few served as a judge.

“The opportunity to be a judge for nine years has been the cherry and whipped cream on top,” Blake said. “I hope everyone finds work that fits them so well.

“I’ve always been about service. Being in a helping profession, a service profession, has been a good fit for me.

“I’ve always had a strong sense of justice. It just fit the bill for me,” he said. “With everything I had done when I came on the bench I felt I had a lot to offer.

“As an associate district judge I get to enjoy the law in its purest form.”

At the heart of his passion is what the law represents to him, especially when it comes to how it impacts the lives of people.

“The essential essence of the law is justice,” Blake said.

“When you get to this level it’s about people’s lives. I unscramble and decipher people’s problems. I take all the little pieces and try to make sense of it. One of the things I’ve learned is there are some problems I can’t solve,” he said.

“Every case has been a personal concern to me. I don’t always get it right, but I strive to make that right choice in every single case.

“This is an awesome position. The decisions I’ve made impact the lives of the average person far more than the decisions of the Supreme Court.”

Blake actually thought about leaving the post at the end of his last full term in 2012. Instead he kept going because there was just so much yet to do.

“I was just so busy. I couldn’t exit in as orderly a fashion as I had hoped.”

His thoughts then turned to leaving early during the current term that runs through next year.

When the office opens up in August the process of naming his replacement officially begins.

It starts with a judicial committee made up of those in and out of the profession taking applications for the job. After the committee narrows the search a total of three names are sent to the governor, who then appoints one of them as the next associate district judge here in Garvin County.

“Given the nature of the office I believe that kind of scrutiny is important,” he said.

“Rather than finish out the term I decided to let the next person come in early. I want to give members of the Bar (Association) the opportunity to see if it fits their situation and participate in the process.

“That person gets the chance to get their feet wet. Voters can then decide for themselves if that person is doing OK when the election comes up next year.”

This exact same process is how Blake came into office as he was initially appointed by the governor. He then won out over two challengers in his first election with this second term coming unopposed.

Blake’s expects a replacement to be named sometime this fall.

More on Blake’s connections to Pauls Valley will be featured later this week in the PV Democrat.