by Stephanie Eaton
By a vote of 2-0 with one abstention, the Platte County Commission last week agreed to rename the Platte County Courthouse to honor Judge Lee Hull, retiring judge of the Platte County Circuit Court.
The New Year’s Eve day meeting was held outdoors--on the steps of the courthouse being renamed to honor the judge. The meeting was held in conjunction with a ceremony kicking off the county’s 175th anniversary celebration.
The county commission passed a resolution designating that the historic courthouse is now to be known as “Platte County Courthouse Owens Lee Hull, Jr. Justice Center.”
Hull’s longtime friend and fellow retiring Platte County Circuit Court Judge Abe Shafer approached the commission about renaming the courthouse after Hull.
“I stand before the commission this morning to request consideration of renaming this county building the Platte County Courthouse followed by the Owens Lee Hull, Jr. Justice Center,” Shafer said.
Shafer told the commission that Hull's familys roots in Platte County date back to the 1840s. The Hull family roots have been tied to Platte County's tobacco industry and Hull's uncle served as a member of the United States Congress.
According to Shafer, Hull served Platte County in a judicial capacity for over 35 years. Before becoming a judge, Hull served as a prosecuting attorney.
“Following his (Hull's) tour in Vietnam, he returned shortly after that to Platte County,” Shafer said. “His first job in Platte County was in prosecuting criminals. That was in 1973.”
In 1978, Hull was appointed a magistrate judge. In 1979, Hull became an associate circuit court judge and then later became the presiding judge of the circuit court of Platte County.
According to Shafer, Hull had a lot of opportunities to serve outside of Platte County.
“Over the years, Lee has had many opportunities which I am personally aware to seek political office--high political office. He had support. He had backing each time. He determined, much like his father, that his duty and his service would be in Platte County, Missouri, to which he has dedicated his professional life.”
Two commissioners supported the move to rename the courthouse. Yes votes were cast by Duane Soper and Beverlee Roper.
Jason Brown, presiding commissioner, abstained. Brown later told The Landmark his abstention was based on philosophy, not of any disrespect to Hull.
Brown said he developed that philosophy in his time as a state representative. He said while serving as a state legislator "I only voted for naming of public buildings, bridges, etc. in memorial (not to honor a living person)."
Brown said he holds Hull "in the highest regard" and his decision to abstain "is no reflection of anything against Judge Hull or his family.”
At the end of the meeting, Hull expressed his gratitude to the commissioners.
“I would like to thank the commissioners for the honor,” Hull said. “It moved me.”
Hull said he has spent half of his life in the building that now shares his name.
“I have spent half my life in this courthouse. Before I was a judge I was here two or three days a week. I guess if you can have a second home that is not on the beach, mine has been the Platte County Courthouse.”