News That Highly Regarded Tenn. Judge Died Unexpectedly Is 'Like Having the Courthouse Crumble'

A Tennessee court is closed today as a tribute to a highly regarded judge who died unexpectedly this week.

Hamilton County General Sessions Judge Bob Moon’s wife of 35 years found him dead early yesterday at home in front of his computer. He apparently had a heart attack, the Chattanooga Times-Free Press reports. He was 60 years old.

“You expect to see him like you would the walls of this building. The idea of Judge Moon being gone today is like having the courthouse crumble,” former prosecutor Lee Davis, who is now a private defense attorney, told the newspaper. The judge was first appointed to a new Sessions Court seat in 1996, then elected to the bench for an eight-year term two years later and again in 2006.

Another defense attorney, Wendi Stanfield, said she had been considering leaving the practice of law, after a 10-year stint in commercial law in New York, until Moon convinced her to start working on criminal cases and served as her mentor.

“He loved it if you asked him questions or needed guidance on an issue,” she said. “He was always there.”

Another friend and colleague, president Michael Cranford of the Boys and Girls Club of Chattanooga, remembered how Moon had reacted to the problem of a tieless young man in his court over a decade ago by asking him questions, the newspaper recounts.

Determining that the defendant neither owned a tie nor knew how to tie one, the judge, who was an active Boys and Girls Club supporter, organized “Tie Day.” With the help of other professionals, who donated neckwear and time, he arranged to have mentors pair up with young men for a lunchtime tie-tying session.

A common theme in all of the reported remembrances of the judge was his willingness to help and bring out the best in others.

After growing up himself in humble circumstances, Moon never forgot his roots and credited a college scholarship from a Boys and Girls Club president with putting him behind the bench rather than in front of it, WDEF reports.

“He was just a man that was passionate about his community cared about the people and he demonstrated it through his actions,” Cranford told the station.

A WTVC post provides details of services for the judge. They will be held at 3 p.m. tomorrow, preceded by visitation tonight and tomorrow.

Additional coverage:

Chattanoogan (opinion): “Roy Exum: A Tribute: Judge Bob Moon”

WRCB: “Fellow judges remember Judge Bob Moon”

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