After more than 26 years, Superior Court Judge Allen Keeble’s days on the bench are winding down.
“I hope to be playing a little more golf,” he said last week, before a reception in his honor at the Troup County Government Center.
Keeble still plans to work, some. He’ll take senior judge status, which is “a lot like being a substitute teacher,” he said. He’ll be able to fill in on cases when needed and pick and choose what he wants to hear.
“I won’t have to quit cold turkey,” he said.
Emory Palmer won the election and will replace Keeble in January.
Keeble chose not to seek re-election earlier this year, after first being elected in 1986. Prior to his election, he served as a state court judge and juvenile court judge in Troup County.
“I have enjoyed being a judge more than I enjoyed being a lawyer.”
Keeble is a Troup County native who got his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Georgia. He was admitted to the bar in 1969 and served in the U.S. Air Force before returning home to practice law in 1972.
Troup County Attorney Jerry Willis served on Keeble’s election campaign.
“Judge Keeble is one of the best things to ever happen to this circuit,” he said Friday.
Superior Court Judge Quillian Baldwin also had good things to say about his colleague.
“If you check throughout the state, you’ll find out Allen Keeble is one of the best judges in the state of Georgia,” he said. “He’s one of the finest, smartest men I know. We’re losing a great judge.”
Keeble said he will miss the people he’s worked with over the years.
“Some of the cases have been very difficult,” he said. “We don’t see people at their finest. Some have problems that defy any good solution. There’s never a dispute that’s easy to resolve. We’re really seeing other people’s misery.”
While he’s seen “countless murder” cases and other serious aggravated cases, it’s some of the civil trials that stick out in his mind. A case between Southern Company and Interstate Fiber Company – a dispute over fiber optic cable – was decided in his court. He was judge over the case when WestPoint Stevens broke up. And he even sat over a case with Columbus-based Aflac, the case wound up in court here since a board member lived in Meriwether County.
“I think they were trying to keep it out of Muscogee County (court),” he said.
Keeble – known for his quick wit – jokes that he doesn’t know how he will spend his retirement, his wife Margee hasn’t told him yet. There will be a honey-do list to tackle, he said, and they both want to spend more time with grandchildren. The couple has two children and five grandchildren. He has been asked by his son to write a family history and he’s already signed up to drive for Meals on Wheels.
The couple are active ballroom dancers and members of First Presbyterian Church, and he’s also a member of the LaGrange Lions Club.
“I think I will enjoy retirement,” he said.