Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country
of West Texas
By Peggy McCracken
Tuesday, January 23, 2001
My favorite judge
gains new venue
I can see him now: Dressed in a white robe, Judge Lucius Desha Bunton
III presides at the Great White Throne. Before him stands one of the most
notorious dope dealers in the Western District of Texas, whom Judge Bunton
had sent to prison for life back on earth.
Does my favorite judge condemn the criminal to Hell or allow him into
Heaven? Hell would be too good for him, considering all the misery he caused
on earth by selling dope to children and their parents. Being the fair judge
that he was on earth, Bunton opens the Book to Life and scans the index to
see if our dope dealer is listed. Sure enough he is, so Bunton sends him
through the Pearly Gates to enjoy the presence of God for eternity. He might
squirm a little doing it, but Bunton was always fair and followed the law
whether he agreed with it or not.
Maybe that sounds sacrilegious to you. Of course, nobody but God sits
on the Great White Throne to judge the quick and the dead at the end of time
as we know it. But we think of a federal judge as having godlike powers here
on earth, so it is easy to imagine the best federal judge of all time having
a hand in that final judgment.
First, though, Lucius Bunton had to face his own judgment before he could
enter the throne room. Here again, I can imagine that early last Wednesday
when his stout heart finally gave out, Judge Bunton met Jesus face to face
_ a moment anticipated since he was a teenager and accepted the free salvation
Jesus offers. "Come on in," Jesus must have said. "I have been looking forward
to having your help up here."
My introduction to Judge Bunton came in 1979 after President Jimmy Carter
appointed him to the federal bench. In our first interview for KIUN Radio,
Judge Bunton took the microphone from this obviously inept reporter and answered
questions I didn't even know to ask. From that day forward he was my favorite
judge _ and he called me his favorite reporter. I learned so much about the
courts from watching him work, and from visiting in his chambers, usually
while we were waiting for a jury verdict, because he took few breaks, not
even for lunch.
His courtroom was a model that every judge should follow (and I've advised
a few to do so). Nobody doubted that Judge Bunton was in control, even though
he liked to spice up the proceedings with his droll wit. One story I wrote
that got statewide play characterized Bunton as ruling with an iron fist
clad in velvet. And that's how I saw him. Some lawyers thought the judge
was a little too stern when he cut off their interminable questioning of
a witness, but to a reporter whose backside got numb from sitting on a hard
bench, it was a godsend. And he showed compassion for the criminals as well
as the jurors and everyone else in the courtroom. Most of all, Judge Bunton
got the job done, and most of the time he did it right _ despite the fact
he held the dubious honor of losing more appeals than any other judge.
Since I was unable to attend the Friday funeral in Odessa, our mutual
friend Steve Balog gave me the highlights. Jack Tidwell, a former law partner
and ex-district attorney, gave the eulogy at the two-hour memorial service
in First Baptist Church where Judge Bunton sang tenor in the choir. I attended
that church one Sunday morning, and it is a big auditorium. It was crowded
with judges from all over. Not just federal judges, but state judges and
district attorneys from across Texas joined the hundreds of mourners. Pecos
was well represented, including all the employees from the federal courthouse
and friends of the judge who had Pecos in his heart.
"He was not just a judge," Balog said. "He was a very close friend; one
of the closest I ever had. He was a religious man and one of the fairest
men I ever knew…He was very compassionate, very soft hearted; very
concerned about people personally."
Bunton hated sentencing anyone to prison, and he tried to retire from
holding criminal trials when he took senior status. But a dearth of trials
in the Pecos courthouse he worked so hard to get constructed forced him back
into the fray. The last time I talked with him, he said that he finally had
to give up holding court because his oxygen tank and other paraphernalia
caused too much trouble for the marshals. He was spending some time in his
Midland chambers every day, working on a history of the Western District
While he was working, though, Bunton took on whatever case came to the
bench. "He didn't back down from any threats or fear of retaliation, " Balog
said. "He would tell us marshals, `If they want to get me bad enough, they
will.' He had a lot of threats."
I am so glad we didn't wait until he died to let Judge Bunton know how
highly regarded he was. When he was appointed chief judge, Pecos honored
Bunton with an evening reception that warmed his heart. Having the Pecos
federal courthouse named for him touched him deeply. And he received honors
from the Fifth Circuit and others in the court system. None of the honors
went to his head, though. He accepted them graciously, and modestly averred
that he probably didn't deserve so much attention.
There in that golden palace where he will spend eternity though, I can
see Bunton wearing a crown of jewels that he earned while here on earth.
It may be so heavy that he can't hold up his head, but maybe a couple of
marshals will give him a hand.
Goodbye old friend. Save a golden bench for me in your heavenly courtroom.
"And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no
more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for
the former things have passed away." Rev. 21:4, NKJV
EDITOR'S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is business manager and webmaster
for the Enterprise. Her email address is
Stock shows take a lot of work and are worth the effort
Everyone involved with the Balmorhea and Reeves County stock shows deserves
a pat on the back.
There is a lot of work and sacrifice that goes into events like these
_ from the kids and families to the judges and buyers.
These days we often hear that kids get into trouble when they do not have
anything to do. Well, any kid involved with raising stock has plenty to do.
So does their family. Every animal shown represents a huge investment
of time and money by the young person showing the animal and their family.
That is time that the youngster could have spent playing video games,
getting into trouble, or just goofing off.
It is also time that Dad could have spent relaxing in his easy chair watching
a game and Mom could have spent at the beauty parlor.
And it is money that every family could have used to pay bills, buy a
nicer car, buy a bigger television _ the list is endless.
Congratulations to the competitors and their families for their efforts,
and to everyone else involved in putting on these shows that give these kids
an arena to showcase their hard work in.
VFW hall available for community service
It has come to our attention recently that derogatory comments may
have been made concerning the propriety of using the V.F.W. hall for
At this time we would like to apologize to anyone who was offended by
these comments and assure everyone that no member of our Post made them.
We furnish our hall free of charge for funerals as part of our community
Trustee and Adjutant
V.F.W. Post 6437
Business owners curious about new City Manager
Many of the Pecos business owners, including myself, are wondering
where our new City Manager is, what he's working on for the betterment
of Pecos and can we be of help?
Moving around as we have with our work in entertainment, we understand
what it is like getting settled in a new place. However, considering the
time our new City Manager has been in Pecos, we are wondering when he is
going to come around to meet the business people.
Around City Hall and The Chamber, we hear about the potential of our new
City Manager, but very few business owners we have talked with have met with
him, or have any specifics about what he is doing.
Pecos lost out on this year's main street program, because when the main
street people made a surprise visit to Pecos, they felt the city leaders
were not showing any initiative to get the program started.
We would like to hear from our City Manager, some of his thoughts and
plans for improving Pecos.
LILLIAN AND RICHARD CREASY
The State Theatre
Return to top
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Peggy McCracken, Webmaster
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
We support Newspapers in Education
Copyright 2000 by Pecos Enterprise