Daviess County's first female judge has died. Judith Dwyer, who was both judge of the Daviess County Court and Daviess Superior Court died at her home Saturday at the age of 75. Dwyer was remembered by friends and colleagues as both a community leader and a groundbreaking professional.
Dwyer graduated from Washington Catholic High School in 1956, Marquette University in 1960, Indiana School of Law at Bloomington in 1963. She served as Daviess County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney from 1966 to 1974. She was the presiding judge in the old Daviess County Court from 1976 to 1987. When the County Court was elevated to Daviess Superior Court in 1987, she was appointed as the first judge and served as Superior Court Judge until 2002.
"She was courageous," said Daviess Circuit Court Judge Greg Smith, who practiced law as both a prosecuting and defense attorney before Judge Dwyer. "She was one of the first female lawyers and judges in southwestern Indiana."
At the time, Dwyer became only the fourth woman to serve as a judge in Indiana. Her time on the bench ran at the same time Judge Robert Arthur was in Circuit Court. "We went to a lot of conferences and seminars together," said Arthur. "We became fast friends. We talked almost everyday."
During her time on the bench Judge Dwyer gained a reputation for running a no-nonsense but fair court. "She was a very dedicated judge," said Arthur. "She knew the law and how to apply it. She took every case personally. She would not rubber stamp a decision. She took each case on its own merits."
"She ran her court professionally," added Smith. "She expected everyone to be on time and prepared. I learned a lot from her as an attorney, prosecutor and as a judge. She was always firm but fair."
Judge Dwyer also kept the court on target. "She had a reputation among the attorney's that you don't try to pull a fast one in her court," said Arthur. "When someone did try she would peer over her glasses and give them 'the look,' and it was even scary for me and I wasn't even practicing law in there."