Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with C. Derek Reed, December 10, 2013

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - Early life

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Partial Transcript: Hi. It's December 10th, 2013. This is Constance Ard and I'm here with Judge C. Derek Reed at the LaRue County Courthouse in LaRue County, Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Judge Reed discusses his family background. He talks about his high school and college education. He talks about selling the family farm and why he and his wife decided to move to LaRue County, Kentucky.

Keywords: Family farms; Glasgow (Ky.); Hart County High School; LaRue County (Ky.); Moving; Parents; Running water; Rural areas; Siblings; Telephones; Trucking companies; Western Kentucky University

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African American families; African Americans--Economic conditions.; African Americans--Education (Higher); African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Housing.; Childhood

00:06:09 - Decision to run for judge

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I travelled up and down the road for a number of years thereafter.

Segment Synopsis: Judge Reed talks about considering running for county attorney. He talks about why his decision to run for judge in LaRue County was so difficult. He talks about his first day as judge. He talks about his father's death from cancer.

Keywords: Bladder cancer; Circuit Court; County attorneys; Daniel Rock; Del Morris; Father's death; Governor Paul Patton; LaRue County (Ky.); Mentors

Subjects: African American families; African American judges; African American lawyers; African Americans--Health and hygiene.; African Americans--Politics and government.; Judges--Election; Judges--Selection and appointment--United States.; United States--Trials, litigation, etc.

00:19:01 - Memorable cases

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Partial Transcript: But my years on the bench have been marred by--marked by a lot of ups and downs.

Segment Synopsis: Judge Reed discusses his most memorable cases. He talks about the highs and lows of his career.

Keywords: Domestic violence; Emotions; Graduation; High school education; Impassive; Influence; Instincts; Lessons

Subjects: African American judges; African American leadership; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Education.; Practice of law--Kentucky; United States--Trials, litigation, etc.

00:24:24 - High school

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Partial Transcript: I had never envisioned that when I went to school all those years ago at Hart County that I would someti--someday be the judge of that county and of this county as well.

Segment Synopsis: Judge Reed discusses his experiences at a segregated school and his move to an integrated school where he was the only black student in his class. He talks about taking classes that prepared him to go to college.

Keywords: "College track"; Carter Valley School; College preparation; General education; Minorities; Phased integration; Race riots; Western Kentucky University

Subjects: African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Discrimination in education.; Race relations--Kentucky; School integration--Kentucky; Segregation in education--Kentucky

00:29:32 - Family's educational background

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Partial Transcript: My father and mother both put a high premium on education.

Segment Synopsis: Judge Reed talks about his parents' views on education. He talks about his siblings' education. He talks about his grandfather's background and fame in his hometown.

Keywords: Brothers; Clyde Reed; Dr. Paul Cook; Expectations; Grandfathers; Influence; Law school; Memory; Mentors; Parents; Siblings; University presidents; Washington University in St. Louis; Western Kentucky University

Subjects: African American business enterprises; African American college students.; African American families; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Education (Higher)

00:36:35 - Judgeship

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Partial Transcript: Sounds like your grandfather and your father were very important figures in your life.

Segment Synopsis: Judge Reed discusses race relations in regard to his election as judge.

Keywords: Conroy Harris; Conservative; Hart County (Ky.); Ku Klux Klan (KKK); LaRue County (Ky.); Opposition; Recruitment

Subjects: African American judges; African Americans--Politics and government.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Judges--Election; Judges--Selection and appointment--United States.; Race relations--Kentucky

00:42:02 - Law school

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Partial Transcript: So how did you decide to go to law school?

Segment Synopsis: Judge Reed discusses the influences on his decision to attend law school, from his conversations with his mother to a symposium featuring William Buckley. He talks about how perceptions of people can change after meeting them. He tells a story about being questioned by the police for the theft of a car the day before his law school exams. He talks about some of his professors in law school, their accomplishments, and his relationships with them.

Keywords: Affirmative Action; Apartheid; Batson Case; Cathleen Brickey; Clarence Thomas; Criminal law books; Debates; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); Examinations; Immigrants' rights; Impressions; Julius Gerard; Lie detector test; Perceptions; Political campaigns; Professors; Ronald Reagan; Self-hatred; St. Louis Police Department; Stigma; Stolen car; Walter Mondale; Washington University in St. Louis; Western Kentucky University; William Buckley

Subjects: African American college students--Social conditions; African American law students; African American lawyers; African Americans--Politics and government.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Law--Study and teaching; United States--Trials, litigation, etc.

01:04:08 - Chief Regional Judge

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Partial Transcript: But, um, looking back at my time it's, it's been a, it's been a good life. My life here on the bench I've enjoyed it a, a great deal.

Segment Synopsis: Judge Reed talks about working in various counties in his position as Chief Regional Judge of the Green River Region.

Keywords: Chief Regional Judges; Impartiality; Recuse; Responsibilities; Senior judgeship; Vice Regional Judges

Subjects: African American judges; Practice of law--Kentucky; United States--Trials, litigation, etc.

01:07:56 - Law practice

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Partial Transcript: We, um haven't talked a--much about your early law practice and I remember when you were talking you said you were driving to Louisville?

Segment Synopsis: Judge Reed talks more about his law practice. He discusses the types of law he did and did not enjoy.

Keywords: Administrative law; Commuting; Criminal law; Family law; Law firms; Louisville (Ky.); Partnerships; Private practice

Subjects: African American lawyers; Practice of law--Kentucky; United States--Trials, litigation, etc.

01:09:59 - Judicial campaign

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Partial Transcript: And then you got the appointment.

Segment Synopsis: Judge Reed talks about his campaign philosophy. He talks about the various areas of Hart County and their physical features and political affiliations. He talks about the impact of race on his career.

Keywords: "Campaign mode"; Accessible; Communities; Conservative; Divisions; Fairness; Hart County (Ky.); School system; Visibility

Subjects: African American judges; African Americans--Social conditions.; Judges--Election; Judges--Selection and appointment--United States.; Race relations--Kentucky; Segregation.

01:16:30 - Community involvement / family life

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Partial Transcript: That's a great way for me to ask you a little bit about what types of activities you're involved in in the community.

Segment Synopsis: Judge Reed discusses his involvement in the community and why he is not involved in certain groups or activities. He talks about how his family is benefiting from a rural lifestyle.

Keywords: Cattlemen's Association; Children; Chores; Isolation; Rural life; Support

Subjects: African American families; African American judges; African American leadership; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Recreation; African Americans--Societies, etc.

01:20:17 - African Americans in the legal field

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Partial Transcript: You also shared that while you were at law school you sat down with some of the, the leaders and talked a little bit about the recruitment.

Segment Synopsis: Judge Reed talks about the low number of African Americans working in the legal profession and discusses how this can be changed.

Keywords: Attitudes; Character; Current affairs; Disengagement; Generations; Involvement; News; Relevance; Work ethic

Subjects: African American judges; African American law students; African American lawyers; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Education.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Law--Study and teaching; Practice of law--Kentucky

01:27:22 - Advice

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Partial Transcript: Um, what additional wise words would you give yourself if you were speaking to a younger version of you?

Segment Synopsis: Judge Reed talks about what advice he would give to a younger version of himself. He talks about the importance of learning core values while growing up. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Consistency; Detention; Parents; Reevaluation; Success; Truancy; Values; Work ethic; Young people

Subjects: African American families; African American judges; African Americans--Conduct of life.; African Americans--Social conditions.