Maguire seeking a return to the bench

Retired Family Court and District Court Judge Walter F. Maguire is currently running for Circuit Judge. The Primary is next Tuesday.

A local retired judge is seeking an opportunity to return to the bench.

Walter F. Maguire of Somerset has a total of 29 years of judicial experience -- averaging about 2,700 cases a year. He's back on the ballot running for the 28th Judicial Circuit, Division I judgeship vacated last November when Judge David Tapp was confirmed to serve on the United States Court of Federal Claims. The unexpired term will runs through 2022.

Maguire retired in 2013 after serving the 28th Judicial Circuit (Lincoln, Pulaski and Rockcastle counties) as a Family Court judge since 2007. Before that, he was a district judge for the 28th Judicial District (Pulaski and Rockcastle counties) from 1978-82 and 1986-2004.

Since his retirement, Maguire has been spending much of time at his farm on Buck Creek though he has kept up his community involvement with gubernatorial appointments to the Kentucky Lottery's board of directors as well as the state parole board. He and his wife of 53 years also enjoy spending time with their three children and their families, including six grandchildren.

When the circuit vacancy came open, Maguire said he was approached about running by a couple of attorneys as well as others in the political arena. Having served in Family and District courts, he thought it a good opportunity to complete his resume with the last component of the local court system. Moreso, Maguire acknowledged "getting a little tired of being retired.

"I wanted to keep our local Circuit judicial system in good order," he continued, "and I felt perhaps I could make a contribution there for a brief period of time. I'm not signing on for eight years, but I just like being involved in trying to make a difference in our communities in a positive, constructive, traditional way."

Maguire is interested in making sure that the local drug court program, which Judge Tapp led to national acclaim, keep its model status. While he doesn't believe judges should play an executive role in treatment, the retired jurist would like to support the alternative sentencing program since the drug problem is so pronounced.

"I think it's important to provide second chances for people," Maguire said, "and I think continuing drug court is very important…Especially given the world today where this drug epidemic is eating away at the soul of the country."

Maguire's love of public service comes honestly as a family tradition. He is the grandson of a former county judge, state legislator and commonwealth's attorney for the 28th Judicial Circuit. He grew up on South Central Avenue as a small child before the family moved to North College Street.

Attending public school, Maguire was a high school athlete and attended the University of Kentucky on a track scholarship. He earned his law degree at UK as well.

As an attorney, he represented many as a public defender and served as an assistant state attorney general. He's also taught courses at the University of Kentucky and Somerset Community College.

Over the course of his career, Maguire served as a member of the Kentucky Juvenile Code Review and Implementation Task Force, state Judicial Council, and Kentucky District Judges Association Executive Council.

With the COVID-19 pandemic preventing large events for most of the election season --delaying the Primary until next Tuesday, June 23 -- Maguire has called campaigning this time around "bizarre and disappointing."

"I enjoy meeting people," Judge Maguire explained. "I have opinions on things; I stand by my opinions. I think the voters probably would be better advised if they knew where their candidates stand on issues. In the same vein, there are rather specific limitations on what judges can and cannot do.

"It's not necessarily a good idea to go out and take particular positions," he continued, "because you may have a case involving those issues. Then the important thing is are you able to divorce yourself from your personal views and follow the law."

Maguire recalled his first campaign for District Judge, when the position was created amid the restructuring of the County Judge office to County Judge-Executive.

"Nobody really knew what the District Court was going to be," he said. "I saw it as an opportunity to be involved in something and helping it get off to a good start.…

"It really gets down to where your heart is and what your commitments are. My commitments are trying to make our legal system work for everyone."

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