XENIA — Every day when Xenia Municipal Court Judge Michael Murry gets home from the courthouse, his wife, Patte, has the same question.
She asks Murry how his day was. And he has the same reply each time.
But after 12 years on the bench, Murry likely won’t face that question anymore. The Bellbrook resident did not seek re-election in November and is retiring at the end of the day Tuesday, Dec. 31 to to explore other possibilities.
“We just want to do some travelling, just see what else is out there,” Murry said Thursday. “At my age (67) we’ll be able to be more active than if I waited another six years. I’m not leaving because I don’t like the job anymore or I’m burned out.”
Quite the opposite.
Murry stressed that he was as excited to get to the courthouse that day as he was his first day as a newly sworn-in judge.
“For me professionally this has been the greatest 12 years of my life, but I’m ready to see what’s next,” Murry said. “I just truly believe I am the luckiest human being alive.”
That’s how he felt every time he banged his gavel, signaling the end of a case or session. But he didn’t love being a judge because he could fine and lock up criminals.
He loved being on the bench because he could help people change their lives.
A private practice attorney for 24 years, Murry was impressed with other judges who “were really trying to make a difference in peoples’ lives.”
That prompted a run for municipal court judge.
“It was my hope as a judge, using our probation department, using our community resources like TCN, Women’s Recovery Center, Greene Leaf, that I as a judge could positively impact the people who come through this court that need to make changes in their lives to be productive members of our community,” Murry said. “In my opinion, we have lots of success stories.”
It’s actually more than just his opinion.
Murry regularly will be out in the community and have someone thank him for changing and/or saving their life.
“I didn’t like you when you put me in jail, but while in jail I realized I had to change my life,” is what Murry often hears.
“I can’t tell you how frequently that happens,” Murry said.
That is what makes Murry most happy about the court system he put in place.
“Our commitment is to education and life change,” he said. “Have we helped them get better so they don’t keep coming back through the court system? I am proud to say I think Xenia Municipal Court has helped many, many people live more productive lives. That’s the reason I ran for the job and it’s the reason for 12 years every single day when I woke up I was anxious to get here.”
Murry also gave a shout-out to city council and the city manager’s office for their support, especially financially.
“It takes money to run all this,” Murry said. “I talk to judges … seems like they’re always at odds with their funding authorities.”
Also leaving with Murry is long-time clerk Pete Creamer. The two met when Creamer was the pastor at Murry’s church. Over a cup of coffee one day Murry asked Creamer if he would be interested in being the new clerk. Murry said Creamer’s organizational skills and self-motivation has allowed Murry to be the best judge he could be.
“Hiring Pete was the best thing I ever did,” Murry said.
A Greene County native, Murry graduated from Greeneview High School and was a teacher, counselor and basketball coach for Cedarville schools until attending University of Dayton law school, from where he graduated in 1983.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.