LOGAN — First District Judge Kevin Allen tearfully said goodbye as he officially stepped off the bench and removed his robe Friday afternoon. The 11-year judge thanked those he had worked with and shared his love for the community during a private going away ceremony and open house.
Judge Allen shared his love for those who had helped him create a mental health court, providing treatment alternatives for people who are diagnosed with mental illnesses. He tearfully reflected on those who had graduated from the program, and said it was the part of being a judge that he will miss the most.
“To me they are heroes,” explained Judge Allen. “People with a mental illness, we don’t have bake sales for them, we don’t go on Facebook and try to raise money, we just tend to ignore them. What if it was difficult for you to get out of bed and go to work, go to get your medication or go to court? If it took all you had, all the courage you can muster to get out of bed? And yet they show up to court. They do their best and I love them. They have changed me deeply.”
He talked about the deputies who had served as bailiffs in his courtroom, and the special bond that he had with the men who were sworn to “step in front of a bullet for him.” He expressed thanks to his law and court clerks, and the attorneys that had appeared before him.
In February, Judge Allen announced he was stepping off the bench after being appointed in 2008. During his service he presided over cases in Cache, Rich and Box Elder counties. Next month he will begin working at the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University. He will also continue to work as a mediator in civil matters.
Earlier during the going away ceremony, Judge Thomas Willmore spotlighted Judge Allen’s impact on the community, estimating that he had changed the lives of more than 10,000 people during the past 11 years. He expressed hope that his fellow magistrate will now be able to change lives on a national scale.
Later, Judge Allen reflected on how serving in his position sometimes left him feeling lonely, as he felt the weight of the decisions that he had to make. He thanked his family and friends for standing by his side and defending him during some of the highly-publicized cases that he had to handle.
Judge Allen explained how he had learned several things while sitting behind the bench. The first, being, “don’t judge others when you don’t know the facts.” He said he’s also come to understand that everyone deserves to be recognized as a human being.
“Everyone has problems and sometimes they are bigger than yours. If you take the time to look around, slow down, you’ll realize that we live in the most amazing place. I believe with all my heart that we have never lived at a time where there is so much hope, so much wealth, so much stability and so much love.”
Judge Allen will be replaced by Judge Angela Fonnesbeck who was nominated by Utah Governor Gary Herbert in August. She will assume his cases, once she finishes serving in the juvenile court system. Judge Clint Judkins will again return from retirement and serve during the interim.