Work is a huge part of who we are. It forms part of our identity, it keeps us busy and it provides for our families. In preparation for the upcoming Smithsonian exhibit “The Way We Worked”at the High Plains Museum, we would like to share a series of local work stories.
The consequences of our actions can lead us to many places. In Goodland, one such place might be in front of Leann Taylor, the Municipal Court Judge. Leann has been with the Municipal Court since 1991 as a court clerk, pro tem judge and, since 2004, the City of Goodland’s Municipal Judge.
A native of Oberlin, Leann moved to Goodland with her family from Garden City for a work opportunity for her husband. Leann spent time as a stay-at-home mom raising her three children before joining Goodland’s court system. In November of 1998 while working as a court clerk she took a course and passed a certification test in Topeka to become a Municipal Judge.
Leann has over 21 years of experience working in the courts, and that experience has informed her service as Municipal Judge. “I like working with people and kids and seeing how this process can make a difference,” Leann commented. Municipal Court is typically the first exposure people have to the court system (through a speeding ticket for example), so Leann’s court management is reflective of that. Leann takes a small-town approach to the troubled individuals she sees. As Leann puts it, “[I] mostly deal with good people who make bad decisions.”
Leann presides over court twice on month on the second and fourth Wednesdays in the Commission Room in City Hall. Depending on various factors—the economy, heat, and others—Leann will see a variety of cases from DUIs and other traffic violations, to animal problems and domestic disputes. Her workload varies from 400 to 1400 cases a year working with attorneys, police officers, and others to arrive at a just result for the defendants that see her. “All cases are important,” she said. The decisions she makes impact the safety of everybody and she works with that in mind. Municipal Judge has made Leann finely attuned to understanding people and knowing what works and what doesn’t to help people learn from their mistakes whether that takes a fine, community service, or jail time. Serving as Judge requires her to be consistent, clear, and tough with people.
Serving as a Judge has also left some restrictions on her private life. She can’t hold office in clubs and no political signs will be placed in her yard; she must at all times observe a non-partisan position. However, Leann is active within the community through KIWANIS and she maintains a happy private life in Goodland with her family.
Leann’s work is public work; she presides over a court that works through difficult moments in people’s lives. It is a stressful time and she does her best to approach that moment with just evaluation and consideration. Work has taught Leann over the years to take her time with decisions and be lenient or tough when she needs to be.
Look for more articles in this series about the way Goodland folks work. Tell us your own work story in the comment section or on our Facebook page.
Mark December 15th on your calendar to see how Americans have worked over the decades at “The Way We Worked” Smithsonian exhibit. “The Way We Worked” Kansas tour is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program. Support for “The Way We Worked” Kansas tour has been provided by the Ross and Marianna Beach Foundation, the Western Kansas Community Foundation, and Jostens. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.