Dear Editor,

Recently the end of an era in the Ripley County criminal justice system was marked. After spending 19 years across the courtroom from an adversary and a rival, John Watson, an attorney from Sunman, he has accepted a position in the Dearborn County Prosecutor’s Office as a deputy prosecutor and has left criminal defense work.

For those in our community who don’t know, John has represented more criminal defendants than any other attorney in the Ripley County criminal justice system during my tenure as prosecuting attorney. Over the years, I’ve prosecuted and he’s defended countless misdemeanors and felonies in our courts. We haven’t always agreed and our clients had differing interests most every time. However, we always had an amicable and professional relationship even in the factually and legally difficult cases, the worst of the worst. John took the tough cases and the not-so-tough cases, handling appointments throughout this entire time period for those who could not afford to hire their own attorneys. He made sure that constitutional rights were protected and that everyone had their guaranteed protections met.

Over the years I have tried many cases and handled thousands of others. A good percentage of those had John Watson’s fingerprints all over them. He fought hard, but he fought fair. In our time together, his word was his bond, and I am grateful for that. I will miss seeing him across the courtroom from me, but maybe someday we’ll prosecute a case together and sit at the same counsel table. I think we’d be a tough team to beat.

So long, my friend, I wish you the best. Ripley County will miss you.

Ric Hertel