Judge Sweeney receives excellence award

Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Award recipient Judge Judge J. Edward Sweeney, at left, received the Theodore McMillian Judicial Excellence Award Missouri Bar President Lynn Whaley Vogel.

Judge J. Edward Sweeney, of Monett, recently received the 2012 Missouri Bar Theodore McMillian Judicial Excellence Award, recognizing jurists who, by virtue of their integrity, leadership and diligence in the pursuit of the efficient administration of justice, inspire other members of the judiciary to similar noble purpose.

Sweeney is a former presiding judge and chief juvenile judge of the 39th Judicial Circuit, comprised of Barry, Lawrence and Stone counties. A 1962 graduate of Monett High School, Sweeney received his undergraduate degree from Marquette University in 1966. He earned his law degree from the University of Missouri--Columbia School of Law in 1969.

Sweeney returned to Monett and entered the private practice of law with his father, Edward V. Sweeney. In 1973-74, Sweeney served as the prosecuting attorney of Barry County. In 1978, he was honored by the Missouri Bar and named a recipient of the Lon O. Hocker Award. He continued to practice with the firm of Sweeney and Sweeney until 1985.

On Sept. 11, 1985, Sweeney was appointed associate circuit judge of Barry County. He was elected to the position in 1986 and 1990. In 1994, he was elected circuit judge for the 39th Judicial Circuit and held that position until his retirement in 2006.

In addition to his trial and administrative duties, Sweeney encouraged school teachers to arrange field trips to the courthouses and observe court proceedings including jury trials. He served as a judge at schools where mock trials were held to educate youth about the dangers of teen drinking and driving. He also spoke to community organizations and at senior centers concerning legislative changes.

Sweeney has served on various Supreme Court committees such as Judge Transfer and Time Standards. He presently is a member of the Gender and Justice Joint Committee of the Missouri Bar and the Missouri Supreme Court.

In addition to hearing cases within the 39th Circuit, Sweeney has received assignments from the Supreme Court whereby he has presided over litigation in another 14 counties. He is a member of the Missouri Bar, the 39th Judicial Circuit Bar Association and treasurer since 1972 and is a member of Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity.

Sweeney has also dedicated himself to involvement in civic activities. He is a member of the Monett Chamber of Commerce and is a past president of the chamber. He is a member of the American Legion Post #91 and VFW Post #4207 in Monett. He actively supports Monett Schools and is chairman of the Priscilla Bradford Scholarship Fund. Sweeney previously served on the lay board of St. Vincent's Hospital in Monett.

Currently, Sweeney serves on the lay advisory board of Cox Monett Hospital and is president of the board. He is a lifetime parishioner of St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Monett. He has been a member of the parish council and serves as lector. He is a member of the Barry County Senior Citizens' Services Fund Board and serves as secretary.

In 2005, Sweeney received the Judge of the Year Award from 7 Valleys Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse and the 2009 Karan Huffmaster Children's Center Award, an organization that works with child abuse assessment and treatment.

Sweeney continues to serve as a senior judge at the trial level and has sat as a special judge on the Court of Appeals, Southern District. He and his wife, Donna, were married in 1973 and have two grown children, Vincent and Marlena.

The award Sweeney recieved is given in honor of Theordore McMillian (1919-2006), an outstanding Missouri jurist who was also the first African American to serve on the Missouri Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals. McMillian served as circuit judge in St. Louis from 1956 to 1972, at which time he was appointed to the bench on the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District. In 1978, McMillian was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, a position he held until 2003.

The Missouri Bar Association names one recipient of the McMillian Award each year. The award has been given since 2004.

Sweeney was presented with the prestigious award during ceremonies at the 131st annual meeting of the Missouri Bar last month in St. Louis. Sweeney was accompanied to St. Louis by his wife, Donna, son Vincent, daughter, Marlena, son-in-law, Michael, and his former court reporter, Kim Ballay.

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