If he were known to wear a robe, Judge Carr Woods would be hanging up that garment on Dec. 31. Woods plans to retire from his 39th Judicial Associate Circuit judge position at the end of this year.
"I hope that I treated all of the lawyers as I would have wanted to be treated when I practiced," said Woods. "Some will think I did and some will not, but that was my goal. I wanted to make sure I treated everybody fairly."
Woods graduated from Perry High School with 13 fellow classmates in 1960. After completing his secondary education, he earned a bachelors degree in science and agriculture from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
"I wanted to be a farmer," said Woods. "My family owned a farm in northeast Missouri, which I wanted to run, but I had allergy-induced asthma. Due to that condition I couldn't become a farmer.
"I earned my bachelors degree with the intention of entering law school," said Woods. "If I hadn't been accepted into law school, I probably would have become a business associate in the agriculture field."
Woods was accepted into the University of Missouri's School of Law, which he graduated from in 1966.
After completing law school, Woods practiced in Bowling Green from 1966 until 1980 when he moved to southwest Missouri. He shared a practice with Michael Garrett in Monett from 1980 until the early 1990s. He then practiced alone until accepting his bench position in January of 2003.
"I always thought I would like to be a judge," said Woods. "The opportunity came in the spring of 2002 when I filed for this position. I had practiced law for 36 years before I took this position, so I was well acquainted with the job."
As an associate circuit judge, Woods is responsible for the associate civil court docket. He also serves as the juvenile and probate division judge in Barry County and shares the small claims, adult and juvenile abuse and domestic relations dockets with Judge Victor Head and the circuit court division criminal docket with Judge Robert Wiley.
"Judge Head and I share the child custody issues," said Woods. "Those are the biggest challenges. Sometimes there seems to be no answer.
"A lot of people don't realize that Judge Head and I also alternate working on-call during weekends and holidays," said Woods. "We must be available 24 hours to approve warrants and search warrants."
During his career, Woods has seen many changes in the court system, but the biggest change came only a few years ago when Barry County transitioned to a digital court records system.
"That change impacted the clerks a lot more than it did the judges," said Woods. "They have done a great job of learning that system."
Even though Woods plans to retire from his associate circuit court judge position this year, he hopes to serve as senior judge in his free time over the next several years.
"My wife and I also plan to sell our house and move to northwest Missouri," said Woods. "I have a son who lives in Kansas City and a daughter who lives in Des Moines, Iowa."
In leaving Barry County, Woods said he will miss the day-to-day relationship he shares with Circuit Clerk Craig Williams, the circuit clerk staff and local lawyers.
"Before I took the associate circuit court judge position, I served as a municipal court judge in eight places, Monett, Cassville, Pierce City, Sarcoxie, Exeter, Purdy, Wheaton and Washburn," said Woods. "I always thought not only the clerks here, but all of the municipal clerks, did a great job. They made my job a lot easier.
"They are the ones who did all the work and handled all the files and made thousands of docket entries," said Woods. "I have been fortunate to have great clerks and great staff members.
"I have had a great relationship with Craig Williams, who does a great job beyond reproach," said Woods. "He is a computer whiz, so he made the conversion to the central computerized system a lot easier for all of us. I give him and his staff a great deal of credit."
Woods also gives credit to his wife, Rosemary, who he will celebrate his 43rd wedding anniversary with in February.
"She has served as my legal secretary," said Woods. "Without her none of my success would have been possible."