Close to 15 years ago, I was working as a detective with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. My job was with the Crimes Against Children Unit and I was partnered with the late Dolly McMahon.
Dolly seemed to find it impossible to not fall in love with every victim we encountered. There were many victims. There are far more child victims in this county than you will ever read about in the news. There are simply too many stories to tell.
On one particular case we worked, Dolly got extremely emotionally wrapped up in every aspect of the case. I smelled disaster because of this. But if you knew Dolly, then you know telling her she was wrong in the way she was handling things would do nothing but get me a tongue lashing about how God was frowning on my lack of emotion.
So we handled the case her way. It wasn’t by the book. Then again, the book doesn’t always recognize the severity of the circumstances.
However, there was some good that came out of this case.
We both had the opportunity to get a special invitation to the office of Judge Jackson Harris, who handled juvenile court in those days. He is now a Superior Court judge.
When we arrived at his office, it didn’t take long to realize this wasn’t a social call. There was no coffee or doughnuts waiting on us when we walked in.
Judge Harris began by discussing our handling of the case. Suddenly, I wished I had stood firm and took the tongue lashing from Dolly. For a brief moment, I was overcome by fear and sickness.
The judge then went on to discuss things like career choices, the wrong career choices, doing things by the book and how we would never again take matters in to our own hands.
Dolly kept trying to explain her point and I kept saying, “Let’s go.” Judge Harris said a few more things that I don’t remember because mentally I was already thinking about a new profession.
As we walked out of his office, Judge Harris stopped us for a brief moment to tell us how much he appreciated what we did for this family.
Government work puts you in close proximity to some very important people. Much of that importance is self-proclaimed but it is there all the same.
During our counseling session with Judge Harris, he never used profanity. He didn’t belittle the work we did. And most importantly, he ended the conversation on a positive note. He has all of the characteristics of a true leader.
It says in Galatians, “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”
Judge Jackson Harris is an important man. Something tells me he doesn’t see it that way, but I do.
He visits daily with his mother in the nursing home even though I’m sure the calendar of a Superior Court judge is pretty full.
I see him out often on Friday nights. When I do see him, he is with his wife and daughter. He is a man who has tremendous power in our government system. Yet, he is also a man who cherishes his greatest gift of all: his family.
He would not be able to have the success he has if he were full of arrogance and hostility. He must judge the law of the land. This can’t be done with an evil heart.
I have had the privilege of speaking with Judge Harris both personally and professionally. There has never been an occasion that he didn’t take time to stop and speak with me.
During all of those conversations, he has never said anything to make me think we live on different levels.
We are blessed to have a man of Judge Harris’ ethical code helping to clean up our community.
The man makes many important decisions every day yet he doesn’t act important. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t act at all.
There are many that think they are something and they only deceive themselves. Everybody else is crystal clear.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.