The Chattanooga area lost a significant figure in the legal community last week with the unexpected passing of General Sessions Judge Bob Moon, who died at age 60 of a heart attack.
I never met him, was never summoned to his court, so I did not know him personally. But based on what I heard from other people and the media, Judge Moon was the type of rare individual we need more of in our local, state and Federal judiciaries.
Individuals that appeared in his court – and received his sentences – attested to his fairness and his compassion. One woman who stood before him on several occasions said he later reached out to offer assistance in getting her life turned around.
Other times Moon reportedly used his bench to speak words of caring admonition and wisdom. With prisons bursting at the seams with overcrowding, and recidivism rates distressingly high, it was encouraging to hear of a judge with a eye toward rehabilitating lawbreakers.
Sometimes his judgments were viewed as unorthodox, but it appears the judge sought a reasonable balance between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, seeking when possible to restore individuals rather than simply meting out prescribed punishment. He also actively participated in Boys and Girls Club activities, recognizing their potential value for young people desperately in need of positive direction.
In the Bible, Micah 6:8 asserts: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Proverbs 21:3 adds, “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”
Certainly, those guilty of crimes should face appropriate penalties. But whenever possible, if the legal system can succeed in restoring individuals rather than throwing them into environments where they exit worse than when they entered, we all benefit. And this, from what I understand, is what Judge Moon attempted to do. May others like him fill the void.