Family, friends, and hundreds of former colleagues attended a memorial service today at Crossings Community Church for late Oklahoma County District Judge Donald Deason, remembering him for his keen sense of justice, his integrity and compassion.
Judge Deason, a parishioner at St. Monica Catholic Church, was found dead in his home last week. The State Medical Examiner determined that he died from a stroke.
Wednesday's service brought mourners from every branch of the legal system, people who wanted to show their appreciation for a 63-year-old man who, they say, treated all people with decency and respect.
"He never forgot that he was dealing with human beings," said Oklahoma County DA David Prater, "not just standing across from him in orange and maybe in handcuffs, but the DA's, the public defenders or the defense bar, his court reporter, and the court staff."
But many who spoke Wednesday made clear that, above all, Deason, who spent 19 years as a prosecutor before being appointed to the bench in 1999, was especially sympathetic and understanding of victims.
One of those victims was Oklahoma City police officer Katie Lawson, who was shot multiple times in 2010, but survived. The accused shooters were tried in Judge Deason's courtroom, and today OKC Police Chief Bill Citty read a statement from Lawson about a man she says she came to truly admire.
"He had a heart for law enforcement and I personally got to witness that," Chief Citty said, reading Lawson's statement, "because I could tell where his heart was during my trial, [and] even after my trial, he was one of my biggest supporters."
D.A. Prater says Deason's passing is a tremendous loss, for many reasons, but certainly because he stood out among those in the legal system who modeled the highest standards of ethics, integrity, and fairness.
"Don Deason would have been at the top of everyone's list without a doubt," said Prater, "[he was] incredibly honest, incredibly ethical."
Prater finished by challenging people to honor Judge Deason by doing what he says Deason exemplified every day, "Live your life, love your life, love those around you."