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Judge Batson prepares to take off the robe

By By LYDIA GRIMES - Features Writer
District Court Judge Gordon Batson will be retiring on Friday after 17 years of service in that capacity.
Courthouse employees, lawyers and his staff will miss him but they are gearing up for the challenge of working with a new judge. Jan Dunaway has been with Judge Batson for the past 21 years and said that she has enjoyed working with him.
Attorney Billy Earl Cook agrees. "He has served the bar well and has used his position in a fair and honest way for everyone," he said.
Julian Johnson sits at a table on the courtroom floor, watching who comes and goes up the stairs. He hasn't been there that long, but he, too, has good words about the judge.
There will be a reception held in his honor Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 10 a.m. at the courthouse to give his co-workers and friends a chance to wish him well. He will leave office on Friday and the new judge, Dave Jordan, will take over.
The Batsons live outside of East Brewton on Highway 29 near the home of his mother who is 89 years old. They have a home at Gulf Shores and have recently been building a new home near there. Judge Batson is looking forward to doing some work there in the next few months.
Gordon Batson was born at Damascus in 1939 and attended the school that was there at the time. He attended that school for nine years and then went to W.S. Neal High School where he graduated in 1957. He was married in 1958 to a local girl, Fay Nelson, and entered the U.S. Army. This was during the time of the "cold war" and he was discharged before the next conflict - Vietnam. He spent three years in Detroit, Mich. and Albany, Ga. and was discharged in 1961. He got a job at Container Corporation which had been built only about four years before. He spent the next 13 years working there while he attended Jefferson Davis Junior College for two years and Troy State University for one year. He graduated from Montevallo in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in business administration with management and marketing as his major. He moved his family to Birmingham and attended Birmingham School of Law where he graduated in 1979 with a degree of Juris Doctor.
He worked in insurance and for an exterminating company while he was in law school.
When he graduated from law school he headed back to Escambia County where he set up his own law practice in 1981. He practiced law there for the next four years until he was appointed district judge in 1985 by Governor George Wallace.
Batson ran unopposed for the office two years later for a six year term and then successfully campaigned and was elected for two more terms. One of the biggest changes over the years is the amount of work that has been placed on the office.
All of this comes from being in charge of so many different things. He is the juvenile court judge, handles a lot of small claims cases, a lot of DUIs, custody cases of children born out of wedlock and a lot of human resource cases.
He is a former member and past president of the Greater Brewton Area Lions Club and is a member at the First Baptist Church of Brewton, although he and his wife usually attend either Cedar Hill Baptist Church or a church in Gulf Shores.
The couple live on a farm, look after his mother and still have a garden each year. They had cattle at one time but have given that up. He and his wife are the parents of one son, Gordon Scott Batson. They have one grandson who is 10 and a step-granddaughter who is four.
Batson is looking forward to working in the yards and planting a new garden come Spring.