Family, friends extol Judge May’s
May caps 18 years in 5th District Court
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
James J. May has clearly earned respect
and admiration from his peers, family and friends. Many assembled last week in
Hailey to cap his career with a festive retirement reception in the 5th District
courtroom where May presided for the past 18 years.
"Great judges are not born. They are
made," said George Haney, one of May’s long-time friends and hunting partners.
Friend after friend and colleague after
colleague praised May at the reception Friday, April 30, for his unwavering
character, for his leadership and his lessons.
"As you know, Judge May has rendered many
important legal decisions in his 18 years," said Blaine County Commissioner Mary
Ann Mix. "Some of them we have supported wholeheartedly and others we
enthusiastically appealed to the state Supreme Court."
There’s more to James May than an attorney
and judge. Some of his family and friends gave a glimpse of the man behind the
May’s son, J. Dee May, said his father is
a husband, a father and, most of all, a man.
"As successful as he has been as a jurist,
the role he would judge his success in life most by is that of a father," J. Dee
The son used an anecdote to illustrate the
man his father is.
He said he remembered a time when a
neighbor came to the door to borrow a tool. After looking around, his father
apologized to the man because he did not have the item in question. When the
neighbor left, James May went to the hardware store and bought the tool his
neighbor needed. He dropped it off with a note that said that, after looking, he
had found the tool.
"That was my Dad. That is my Dad," J. Dee
Monte Barney, May’s daughter, pointed out
that her father has a tender heart and is not above tears. Many of the stories
told Friday also jabbed May for his Mormon heritage and passion for hunting.
"I’ll tell you, as a renegade, there was
no better bishop to have than James May," said Lloyd Webb, a colleague and
friend. "If I make it into heaven, it’s all because of Jim."
But he was also a successful lawyer and
"I want to pay tribute to Jim May, the
man," said Gordon Thatcher, an attorney from Rexburg. "He’s the kind of lawyer
we ought to aspire to be. I thank him for his example."
A number of May’s law clerks from
throughout the years paid him high honors. "The 18 months that I was Jim May’s
law clerk had a profound effect on my career," said Craig Haukaas, who now works
as a prosecuting attorney in Wisconsin. "It was an honor to be his clerk, and it
was even a greater honor to be considered his friend."
Matt Miller, who lives in St. George,
Utah, summarized his comments thus: "I love you."
High praise from a former employee.
Hailey Attorney Keith Roark said the
occupational disease that afflicts many talented judges is arrogance.
"I never saw a hint of arrogance from Jim
May. I never saw him raise his voice, speak an unkind word or belittle an
attorney," Roark said. "As long as people remember that name, as long as there
are attorneys who remember appearing in front of Jim May, the unwavering
compassion and untarnished integrity will remain."