By Hayeon Choi
Being a judge can be a hard work, especially when you are the Chief Justice of the State Court. There are many traits to being a judge, such as patience, firmness, understanding, and compassion. Jason Baine Thompson, Chief Justice at the Fayette County State Court, has all these traits.
“Very detail oriented, very task oriented, and goal oriented. He likes to include others, he is very community minded, and, if he has a task or a goal, he is very focused,” said Whitney Shoemaker, Thompson’s sister.
Thompson cares so much about the community because it’s where his roots are. He attended Fayette County Junior High and Fayette County High School.
Afterward, he went to Maryville College in Tennessee, majoring in political science and minoring in business.
“They did not have a pre-law program, so those were the courses I took,” Thompson said. After four years, he attended the Cumberland School of Law at the campus of Samford University.
“He always wanted to be a lawyer, since I can ever remember,” Shoemaker said. “My mom tells a story, when he was like 10, he went to a neighbor’s yard sale and found some law books, brought them home, and said he was going to be a lawyer.”
Like Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Thompson became a lawyer to help people.
Wanting to be a lawyer ever since when he was young, he never thought about becoming a judge. Ten years ago, Thompson was given that opportunity for the first time as a part-time city court judge. Sitting in the judge’s seat was a new perspective for him, as it was the first time looking out at the people in the court instead of facing the judge. Thompson found that he truly enjoyed his new role.
“It was an awesome responsibility, but at the end of the session, I thought it was another way I can help the community,” Thompson said.
Eventually, he did more part-time judging, until he was a full-time judge. By law, Thompson had to meet the minimum age requirement, have a law degree, reside in the county, be in good member standing with the state law, and earn the community’s trust in order to become a state court judge. Meeting all these requirements, Thompson has been a full-time State Court judge the last four years.
Being a State Court judge itself is a hard and busy job, Thompson said. The state courtroom is busy all day long, as Thompson hears pleas, criminal cases, civil cases, bench trial, and jury trials.
“Every case has to be very important because it’s the most important case to the folks out there,” Thompson said.