Garret has struggled in recent years with several medical issues including cancer and heart surgery. "A number of other physical problems which require constant monitoring and medication have compromised my immune system. Those who direct my medical care clearly say these situations are not compatible with the rigors and stress of my judgeship and continued health," the judge said.
Garrett said he will take medical retirement from the position of presiding circuit judge effective Nov. 30.
The judge said other judicial and county government officials have requested he remain in the office until that time in order to help with the draft of the budget proposals for 2006. "I will remain available for any help requested during the interim period," he said.
The judge was born Nov. 13, 1941, in West Plains. He graduated from Southwest Missouri State University with a bachelor's degree in history in 1961 and from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a juris doctor degree in 1966.
He and his wife Kay, an assistant professor of communications at MSU-WP, have two sons, Jacob, who has a private law practice in West Plains, and Nathan, who is a federal prosecutor in Kansas City. The couple has five grandchildren.
Garrett served as prosecuting attorney in Howell County from 1967-1970 and as juvenile officer from 1967-1969. He is a member of the Conservation Federation of Missouri and served as state president 1992-1993. He was elected 37th District circuit judge in 1994 and again in 2000. His term will expire Dec. 31, 2006. The 37th District is comprised of Oregon, Howell, Shannon and Carter counties.
Garrett explained that since he is retiring before his term is up, Gov. Matt Blunt will appoint someone to fill the position until the election in 2006 when a candidate will be elected to fill the judgeship. "Several people have expressed interest in the position. They will have to present an application to the governor and be interviewed," he said.
The judge shared some thoughts and reflected on his many years working in the judicial system. "My 40 years in the system have given me the opportunity to appreciate the quality of our system of laws and the abilities of those who work within its framework. The judicial system and county governments in this circuit have never been in better shape, and our juvenile justice system is a model for the nation. This is a direct result of the many good people who work within these departments. I take great pride in having been their colleague," he said.
Garrett said he is pleased with the accomplishments his office has made in Oregon County. "We have established a juvenile department in Oregon County and have a deputy juvenile officer there 24 hours a day. We have also placed a resource officer in Thayer School," he said.
"Some of the county officials in Oregon County have helped me resolve some important issues in the county. When I was elected in 1994 there were over 1,000 cases in the county that needed one kind of attention or another. They had to be reviewed and dealt with. Janice Andrews and Dorothy Barton, who both have served as circuit clerk and recorder since I have been elected, have been a great help," the judge said.
Garrett said Oregon County Judges Bill Hass and Jo Beth Prewitt have both been a great asset to the circuit. "They have taken on other case loads outside the county and earned great respect," he said.
The judge said, "One of the greatest treasures of our Constitution is the freedom of the press and media to make inquiry, comment and critique of public figures and institutions. The watchful encouragements of the media have been a significant part of the successes of this circuit," he said.
"Through my job, I have had the chance to talk and to deal with a lot of men and women, regular citizens. I have enjoyed this," he said.
Garrett said his future includes volunteer work, teaching and traveling. "Kay tells me there is laundry, cooking and housework ahead for me," he added.