Central Division Reception - Knox Takes on New Role

On November 5th, the Court hosted the Central Division bar reception at the Old Hawthorne Club in Columbia.

In addition to the good fellowship of federal practitioners from mid-Missouri, the reception offered a perfect opportunity to honor retiring U.S. Magistrate Judge William A. Knox. The Missouri Bar, the Boone County Bar, the Cole County Bar, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Public Defender’s Office all presented Judge Knox with mementos in recognition of his service and their unilateral respect.  Judge Knox also had a chance to thank his judicial assistant, Kay Bode, his law clerks, LuAnn Griffith and Heather Richenberger, and all those in the Clerk’s office for their support during his time on the bench. 

The Court would like to thank Pat Eng for his assistance in reserving such an outstanding  facility and Attorney Admissions Clerk, Laura Bax, for organizing and hosting the reception.

After his official retirement on January 14, 2010, Judge Knox will continue to serve the Court on “recall” status and will be available to assist new Magistrate Judge Matt Whitworth and to preside in recusal situations.  So, although Judge Knox will be no stranger to the courthouse, we asked him to share a few remarks as he transitions to a new role.   

One of Judge Knox’s favorite duties included presiding over naturalization ceremonies.  Not many people know that Judge Knox was able to give the naturalization oath to Mother Teresa - not the Mother Teresa from Calcutta, but the Mother Teresa who works and lives in the convent in Jefferson City.  During his tenure, Judge Knox also processed over 5000 prisoner civil rights cases involving everything from complaints about the number of compartments in food trays (some of the food runs together, prompting requests for five versus three compartment trays) to complaints about the rights of inmates who are HIV positive.  Judge KnoxHe reviewed complaints about inmates being denied the right to practice their religion, the educational opportunities for female inmates and general overcrowding.  Whether the issues were substantive matters affecting many or unique to a particular individual, there was never a dull moment as Judge Knox responded to the high volume of filings impartially and efficiently.

When asked about serving as a U.S. Magistrate, Judge Knox wanted to share this message:  “I think the Court (the judges and all the support staff in chambers and the clerk's office) does a difficult job and does it very well, never forgetting that we serve the public.  I have had a wonderful career, made many friends and am proud to have been a part of the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Judge Knox and Keith Birkes

I hope litigants (and maybe a few inmates) believe I was fair and impartial in what I did every day, but I suspect my most significant contribution to the law has been my work on the Eighth Circuit Model Jury Instructions.  They are widely used in the Eighth Circuit and in other Circuits, and I am glad I could make what contributions I did.  These past 24 years have been an educational, humbling, and rewarding experience, and I look forward to continuing to serve the court for many more years but on a more limited basis.”




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