LAWTON, OK (TNN) - A new special judge will take his oath of office Thursday at the Comanche County Courthouse.
Grant Sheperd said he never had big dreams of growing up and becoming a judge, but over the last few years the thought has crept into his head. When Judge Kenny Harris retired at the end of November, Sheperd said that created an opening for him to transition into a new role he thinks he'll really enjoy.
Sheperd was born in Hobart and attended The University of Oklahoma for undergrad and law school before moving to Lawton in 2010 to work in private practice.
"The main two things we do are family law and criminal law,” Sheperd said.
He said going back to his days in law school, becoming a judge never crossed his mind.
"I didn't think about it immediately out of law school, you go to law school with these dreams of grandeur that you’re going to be a trial lawyer and make all this money and then you get out there in the real world and that's not quite how it plays out. I enjoyed private practice, I enjoyed interacting with clients and other lawyers but the more I practiced, the more I was in that courtroom, the more I felt like it was something I could do and would enjoy doing,” Sheperd said.
When Sheperd found out there was an opening for Special Judge, he filled out his application on the very first day possible. But, he waited about two weeks before submitting it to make sure it was what he truly wanted to do.
"I got a call from our presiding judge to come over and see him, you never want to get a call from a judge to come see them. Then you get there, and they say shut the door and you’re like oh man what did I do. Then he asked me if I still wanted the job and I said sure, I’ll take it. It was anxiety at first and euphoria after that,” Sheperd said.
There are two special judges at the Comanche County Courthouse, as Sheperd will join Judge Susan Zwaan in the role. They are the ones who handle the misdemeanor cases, small claims cases, wedding ceremonies and felony preliminary hearings. Sheperd said a great blueprint on how to do the job has already been set thanks to Judge Kenny Harris, who held the position for nearly 20 years before him.
"The people that came in front of him actually seemed to enjoy being in court and that’s not something you see very often. Most of the time as a judge or a lawyer, you’re encountering people on their worst day. They’ve been arrested or they’re there for a divorce or a criminal case and they’re not happy. To see the way he treated them and the way they were able to carry out their cases and not just go into a depression and do it with dignity, I think that was something very impressive that Judge Harris was able to do and I hope to continue to do that,” Sheperd said.
Sheperd will be sworn in Thursday at 3 p.m. at the Comanche County Courthouse and will officially start as special judge on February 4th.
"I’m going to treat everybody with respect, there may be a case there for 100 dollars or someone getting kicked out of their home, or it could be for 10 thousand dollars or it could be a serious felony case. Everybody is going to get treated equally, I’m going to hear both sides of each case and make a decision based on the law, not on my personal preferences,” Sheperd said.
Sheperd said he’s received lots of advice and encouragement from all of the current Comanche County Judges, as well as some past judges. He said he is excited to hit the ground running and face the challenges the new job brings.