Williams retires as judge — sort of

LEWISTOWN – It was like any other sentencing date in the Mifflin County Court of Common Pleas on Friday, with one significant difference – it was Judge Rick Williams’ last day on the bench.

Sort of.

Williams is a well respected member of the legal community in Mifflin County and those sentiments were put forth by more than one attorney. Williams is retiring as a common pleas judge.

One by one defendants appeared in court to begin their sentences handed down by Williams and afterward the defense attorneys expressed their gratitude for his service.

Mifflin County Public Defender Bob Ferguson told Williams he has always been “fair and judicious” in his rulings.

“I truly appreciate your service,” Ferguson said.

Bruce Manchester, who ran for a seat on the Centre County Court of Common Pleas several years ago, said he has been a practicing attorney for 35 years and has seen all kinds of judges.

“If I can be very direct, you’re one of my favorites,” he said.

John McCullough said he was sorry to see Williams go, but was looking forward to seeing him return on a part-time basis as a senior judge.

Williams said he could say the very same thing about McCullough, who recently moved to Dauphin County and was spending less time taking up cases in the Juniata Valley.

Mifflin County District Attorney Dave Molek said Williams has done an excellent job serving the community.

“I’m glad to see you will still be staying on from time to time,” Molek said.

In somewhat of a twist, Williams said Molek was the one who first floated the idea to him to run for Magisterial District Judge, which at first he was resistant to do.

“I felt like I found my niche,” Williams said.

During his time on the bench in the court of common pleas, Williams has overseen many changes to the court, including the implementation of the Juvenile Drug Court.

In addition, Williams is one of the founding members of Mifflin County Communities that Care, which among other things strives to help improve the lives of young people by encouraging them to make responsible decisions.