A 45 year career was celebrated Saturday in Fargo for Judge Myron H. Bright.
Bright has served 45 years and is at Senior Status in his career. He's been on the bench for more than 7,000 cases.
"I've tried to do what I can, for what I say, or what I see is justice...it's one of the things a judge otta do but of course a judge is limited it's not his own idea of justice it's what the law says, and that's what I've tried to do." Myron Bright says with a smile on his face. Bright is 94 years old and still serving as a Judge in North Dakota.
In 1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Bright for an open seat on the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. A memorable time in his past is the work he did on the case of James Dean Walker where he helped free an innocent man. A special reunion was arranged for Judge Bright and James Dean Walker. And after 22 years, James Dean Walker had his ultimate wish come true.
First time, he finally got the chance to meet and thank the honorary Judge Myron Bright for saving his life and setting him free. "I walked over to him and shooked his hand, embraced him and it was great," said James Dean Walker.
Tears of joy, as James Dean Walker gave a surprise appearance to Judge Myron Bright in honor of his 45th year as eighth circuit court appeals judge. "Judge I have a friend of yours come and say hello, and there walked James Dean Walker," said Judge Myron Bright.
Judge Bright says he is a proud judge and the James Dean Walker case was one of the most important in his career. Walker was convicted for murder for a police officer's death in 1963 in North Little Rock, and charged with first degree murder. He served jail for 23 years and even was sentenced to death row. But when his case was sent to Bright, things changed and Bright says Walker was framed. Judge Bright worked on the case for 5 years before giving James Dean Walker a chance to walk free. Walker calls Judge Bright his liberator. "Everyday there is not a day that goes by that I don't think about this gentleman, thank god for him," said Walker.
For years, Judge Bright and Walker exchanged holiday cards and phone calls, but getting to meet Walker brought a different smile to his face. But for Judge Bright, he says Walker's case is an example of that the Judicial system isn't perfect. "Today, the James Dean Walker would not get justice that's a real crack to be in the criminal justice system," said Bright.
The North Dakota Law Magazine highlighted the James Dean Walker case in the Summer 2008 edition. You can read more about this monumental case here.