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Judge Hamilton Singleton set to retire

Official portrait unveiled for courthouse by Bradly Gill | December 21, 2022 at 5:00 a.m.
Photo by Bradly Gill Judge Hamilton Singleton stands next to his portrait that was hung in the Ouachita County Courthouse during a ceremony on Tuesday, December 13, 2022.

A crowd of well wishers and friends joined Judge Hamilton Singleton last Tuesday, Dec. 13, for the unveiling of his official portrait, which was hung in Courtroom A at the Ouachita County Courthouse.

His daughter, Christina Carr, who followed her father's path by becoming a lawyer herself, was the master of ceremonies. Also in attendance was her brother.

Carr stated, "I think we clearly set our father on the path to this judgeship... We gave him job training in several areas that I think paid off" dispute resolution, property division -- 'he touched my stuff' -- and discernment of the truth versus a self-serving fib. He had a lot of experience in that respect."

Singleton's long-time friend Jerry West spoke about his relationship with the judge.

He said, "It's a little tough having to be up here with all of these attorneys... Ham and I have had a friendship that spans for almost 60 years, and through those years we have enjoyed golfing, cutting firewood and water skiing... I think most of you realize Ham was a very good football player, but also outstanding at track and field."

West also mentioned Singleton's interest in carpentry stating, "Most all know well that he is an accomplished carpenter and builder, having worked with Habitat for Humanity."

Fellow Judge Edwin Keaton spoke of Singleton's role as a mentor.

"In my 24 years as a circuit judge I had the privilege to serve alongside Judge Singleton... You could talk to him about some other issue, you being new to the bench. That was always beneficial. He's been a great leader in this community from the bench perspective," Keaton said.

Another long time friend of Singleton and attorney James Pratt talked about meeting Singleton as student athletes.

"I was growing up in El Dorado and I thought I was a great athlete. I kept hearing around the gym and other places about this guy in Camden who was a master of something -- they had never seen before at a track meet. They would come to El Dorado. I kept hearing about this guy and they, somebody, pointed him out and -- my God he was huge. And I thought 'What the hell does he run?'"... Finally I slowed down and someone told me he was state champion in shot put," Pratt said. "I knew he wasn't a sprinter."

The two later met again at the University of Arkansas in 1967.

"After we both graduated, which was something of a miracle for me, we both went to law school," Pratt said.

"A year later, Ham came to El Dorado and he joined a big firm, and he had about as much fun as I did, so we both got out of there and came up here (Camden)," he continued. "Back in those days a young lawyer could go to knock on the door of any other lawyer in town and they would take you under their wing."

Singleton also reflected on his career, thanking the community for allowing him to serve on the bench.

"The last 28 years as a judge has enabled me to give back to our community and our church. That's something I don't think I would be able to do as a practitioner of the law, because this job has enabled me to leave my stuff at the office. I didn't have to take it anywhere with me, I didn't have to come in at night, I didn't have to come in on the weekends as we did in the practice of law, and it really did give me the chance to give back to our community and church," Singleton said. "Interestingly enough, the practice of law was way more demanding and I think stressful than the judging. I thought simply being a lawyer was an awesome opportunity, but being elected by your peers to judge -- there lies an honor and a privilege beyond description."

Print Headline: Judge Hamilton Singleton set to retire


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