Syler served county well for two decades on the bench

Judge William Syler will serve his last day as Cape Girardeau County's circuit judge at the end of this month as Michael Gardner prepares to fill his shoes.

And they are some big shoes to fill.

Syler has honorably served his post for the last 22 years. The judge, now 66, could not serve another full term, according to state law that puts the age limit for Missouri judges at 70.

We know Syler to be a steady, solid and fair judge.

Over the years, several reporters have privately expressed their appreciation for Syler. His common-sense approach and fair-mindedness has extended to his relationship with the media.

In a recent interview, Syler expressed wonderfully a snapshot of his role as a judge. Here is an excerpt from the story, written by Emily Priddy:

" ... When you're dealing with someone who's a bad person, who's really done a bad thing, it doesn't take a lot of thought to deal with them harshly," Syler said. " ... Good people who do good things but have life change on them are the tougher ones."

For instance, Syler said, two parents -- both deeply involved in their children's lives -- might go through an amicable divorce and agree to share custody. Later on, one parent remarries, and the new spouse receives a job transfer somewhere out of state.

"Now you have a problem, and it's not necessarily one I can solve. ... You have two nice people who have done nothing wrong, who are living their lives," but changing circumstances require a judge's intervention, Syler said.

And that, in a nutshell, is what it takes to be a good judge. Foremost, of course, he must know the law. But beyond that he must have a good sense of justice and a fair amount of empathy. Syler has served his role admirably with these traits over the past two decades.

We wish Judge Syler the very best life that retirement can offer. And we say thanks for all of your work on the bench and beyond.