Retiring judge wants churches to step up in communities

By Joe Birch - bio | email

Retiring criminal court judge John Colton Jr. said churches need to play a greater role in reducing crime in local neighborhoods. He said his faith helps him prepare for court each day.

"And right here before I go up those steps I say: I'm no longer running the show. God's will be done," Colton said.

Colton also keeps his father's Bible in his chambers. His father also served as a criminal court judge.

"It's not religion I'm talking about, it's spirituality," Colton said.

The judge said the city's crime crisis is rooted in parental failure. He said parents are not teaching their children the biblical commands to love God and love thy neighbor. Colton quoted a July 4 newspaper advertisement featuring Godly quotes from the Founding Fathers:

"Even Benjamin Franklin says God governs in the affairs of men."

"You know, we've lost it,"Colton said.

The judge said the city's hundreds of churches could help turn Memphis crime around.

"I think you take a church and you go next door to that church and you say, 'Can we help you?' I think that's how it starts."

Colton had some blunt encouragement for those who gripe about crime but fail to take any action:

"I'd go out an say get up off your ass and help some of these kids who just want you to pat them on the back," he said. "Instead of some guy who runs a gang to come up, pat them on the back and say 'join our gang.'"

Judge Colton presided over countless trials including notable death penalty cases involving convicts Robert Glen Coe and Phillip Workman. Six lawyers are running in the August election to replace Judge Colton on the bench in Criminal Court, Division Three. The winner will start keeping order in the court September 1.

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