Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

October 22, 2013

Kendall named to Judge’s post

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — It was a busy day on Monday for Pauls Valley attorney Steve Kendall as he walked from one county courthouse office to the next introducing himself as the next associate district judge here.

Kendall has been officially appointed by the governor as the replacement for John Blake, who stepped down from the office and into retirement this past summer.

Kendall was among three local attorneys seeking the appointment, which actually came from Gov. Mary Fallin late Friday afternoon.

Now set to serve out the last year left on Blake’s term, Kendall won’t step into the judge’s robe until a swearing in ceremony expected to come within the next few days.

Always with a modest demeanor and never looking for the spotlight, Kendall couldn’t avoid attracting some attention this week after his name was the one for the judicial appointment.

Kendall said he learned the news from the governor herself when she called his cell phone on Friday.

“She explained my experience of more than 20 years in civil and commercial and criminal law, both as the prosecution and defense, contributed to my selection,” Kendall said.

”The governor felt I was well prepared for this job.”

Kendall agrees as he feels his experience as an attorney, along with some seriously hard knocks in life, have all combined to better prepare him to be Garvin County’s next associate district judge.

In fact, Kendall cites a trio of difficult if not tragic events that have played a big part in his life and shaping him into the kind of person he is today.

Each one has represented a different obstacle in life to overcome with the first coming when Kendall was 11 years old as his father passed away.

”That plunged us into poverty,” he said. ”Later when I went to college I paid my way through school. No one gave us a dime.”

Later as a young adult he experienced a much different kind of tragedy.

While married and living in Texas he returned home one day in 1990 to discover his wife had been raped and murdered by a neighbor who turned out to be a serial killer.

The horrific incident led to Kendall deciding to attend law school.

That was followed 10 years ago with Kendall himself being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that he since has beaten back.

Today it all adds up to life experiences and some pretty intense hardships overcome that Kendall believes have prepared him for his opportunity to serve on the judicial bench.

“There have been a lot of times where I’ve had a near shipwreck and had to rebuild my life,” he said. “I feel all the burdens I’ve carried have given me the tools and understanding and maybe the wisdom. I just think all of this has prepared me for this job.”

Kendall is currently an attorney at Garvin, Agee, Carlton and Mashburn, a law firm that focuses on civil and commercial litigation.

He previously served as a private practice attorney while contracting with the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System.

Kendall also served as an assistant district attorney in Cleveland County.

“Throughout his career, Steven Kendall has proven himself to be an effective professional who has served in both the public and private sector,” Fallin said in a released statement. “With his many years of service, I know he will serve the state and Garvin County well.”

He was also in the United States Army Reserve and received an honorable discharge in 1990.

Kendall served as a member on the board of Legal Aid of Western Oklahoma and as the president of the Garvin County Bar Association.

He received a bachelor’s degree in history from West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas, and a law degree from the University of Oklahoma.

He and his wife Shari have three children, two girls ages 16 and 13 and a young son 3.

“I’ve been in pursuit of wisdom all of my life. I have a thirst to understand and to have wisdom,” Kendall said, adding he’s an avid reader with an intense pursuit to learn more. I still want to keep a sense of optimism in the face of these things that have tried to beat me down,” he said.

“As a judge I can pursue truth. I can listen to both sides and use my logic and all my skills to make what I think are wise decisions. I can focus on doing what’s right.”