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Judge Vassar man of few words

Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2016 12:00 am

Tulsa World

By Ralph Schaefer TB&LN correspondent

Joe Sam Vassar was a man of few words after receiving the “Judge of the Year” award from his colleagues.

Vassar, District 24 judge in charge of Creek, Okfuskee and Okmulgee County courts, was recognized by members of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) during their annual meeting Jan. 23.

“I thank you for this high honor,” he said. “I have collected many plaques over the years, but this means a great deal to me.

“I hope that I will always be remembered as a lawyer. My father made a piece of jewelry, a necklace, for mother. She requested that the phrase ‘I love lawyers’ be inscribed on it. My wife, Marsha, is wearing it tonight. I hope I always remember that.”

Vassar looked out over the audience and saw his many friends in the ABOTA organization that included Oklahoma Supreme Court justices, Court of Civil Appeals, district judges and fellow attorneys, then paused as he considered the award again.

“The thing that means so much to me about this award is when I look around and see the members here,” he said. “I know each of you know the rule of law. I know you value the rule of law, and it appears that some of you are going to have to defend the rule of law and I congratulate you for that.”

The inscription on the award read: “Joe Sam Vassar, with respect and appreciation for your many years of dedicated service to the courts of Oklahoma and the recognition of your civility and professionalism towards the citizenry and trial bar — 2015.”

Gary B. Homsey, outgoing ABOTA president, introduced Vassar, who earned a law degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1963.

Vassar practiced for a time in Oklahoma City before moving to Bristow in 1974, where he continued to practice law before becoming a district judge in 1999.

He participates in community events and has played the part of Santa in the community for more than 40 years.

In addition, Vassar regularly goes to day care centers, nursing homes and marches in the community’s Christmas parade.

He is known to embrace and encourage young lawyers, according to Homsey.

“He loves the law and is a passionate student of the law,” Homsey said. “His courthouse door is always open and he gives guidance and counsel to young lawyers and anyone who needs it. But he also runs a tight ship in the courtroom.

“Judge Vassar has been known to work weekends and spend hours upon hours reading briefs in the preparation for a jury trial.


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