Judge, 84, retires but vows to keep busy

GEORGETOWN — Ever the team player and ready to assist whenever and wherever needed, he jumped from one task to another without hesitation.
First up was an unexpected capias issue to address, then a warrant needing attention.

Lastly, Justice of the Peace Court Magistrate Judge James “Jim” Horn met with a Delaware State Police trooper in the waiting room on another matter.

Eventually, the 84-year-old judge was called to another room as the frenetic pace continued a couple weeks ago.
Surprise!

Awaiting Delaware’s oldest sitting judge inside were 25 or so well-wishers gathered to celebrate his nearing retirement.
Not much if anything has gotten past him in the past 15 years behind the bench, but this time it did.

“They had me completely fooled,” Mr. Horn said Friday from JP Court 3 in Georgetown.
“While I was running around they were setting up the food and drinks, the balloons and I had no idea what was coming.
“It was nice.”

Mr. Horn’s last day behind the bench was Oct. 8 and his presence will be missed.
“His work ethic was all about being available 24 hours a day every day for anyone’s call,” Deputy Chief Magistrate Sheila Blakely said.

And everyone before him gets a fair shake, according to his supervisor.
“He always tries to treat litigants fairly,” she said. “He’s always very respectful of anyone in front of him and able to explain the law so they better understand what’s going on.”

It’s been a good decade and a half run for the then Gov. Ruth Ann Minner appointee, who graduated from Dickinson Law School before joining the Delaware Attorney General’s Office.

In 1965, the future magistrate judge and wife Joan (now married 58 years) started Confidential Services, Inc. a security guard service, alarm installation, private detective company that operated for 37 years before they sold it. The company had 218 employees at the end.

Mr. Horn applied his experience while serving as co-chair of a legislative committee that drafted many alarm laws in Delaware.
Rest assured, he’s stepping away from JP Court but not slowing down. In addition to the regular runs in his Lewes hometown and lap swimming, Mr. Horn will devote time to his Jefferson Masonic Lodge #15 (60-year member), Inn of Courts board of directors seat, Hanby Trust Fund for needy children and more.

Continued participation in local and national mock trial competitions will remain on the to do list as well. Mr. Horn and his bride (who serves as his bailiff in contests ) earned this year’s Justice Gene Franchini Golden Gavel Award for their contributions to developing future attorneys.

“You can make your own life what you want it to be if you go out and do it and not be a couch potato,” said the Rehoboth Beach native (his grandfather settled there in 1873) and University of Delaware graduate who became an Eagle Scout and beach lifeguard as a youth and earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do at age 45.

“The key to longevity is keeping your mind active and meet your need and responsibility to give back to society, which I believe is incumbent on all of us to do.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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