Juvenile Judge's Time On Bench Comes To Close: Leaves Lasting Legacy

By Jeff Neumeyer

April 25, 2013 Updated Apr 26, 2013 at 9:23 AM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) --- A prestigious career in the justice system comes to an end.

Allen Superior Court Judge Stephen Sims is set to serve his final day on the bench.

His life’s work in the courts included trailblazing achievements.

Since 1997, Judge Sims has been showing up to work at the Allen County Juvenile Center.

Friday will be his last time.

" It's a different feeling, but a good one, but nevertheless different, so we'll go to the next stage of life and go from there," said Sims, who will be able to look back on his public service with pride.

In 1982, he was elected to his first of three terms as Allen County prosecutor.

In the late 1980's, he made history, overcoming a botched police investigation and getting a conviction in the Sharon Lapp murder case, by successfully using DNA evidence to link Frank Hopkins to the crime.

It was a first in Indiana.

" You always want to get it right, and that's a tool that lets you get it right, so it was a privilege to be the first attorney in the state of Indiana to get DNA introduced."

Sims made his mark by taking risks that paid off.

Three times he filed murder charges and got convictions, in cases where authorities originally couldn't find the body.

And he used anti-racketeering laws to harass and shut down adult bookstores, bars, and porn establishments that cropped up in working class neighborhoods.

It was a crusade that prompted him to make arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.

" I thought just because you're poor and in a poor neighborhood, you don't need to have nuisances in your neighborhood, you have as much right to a quality life as everybody else," Sims said.

1996 marked a big transition for Sims.

He took over a judge position in the Family Relations Division of juvenile court.

He made a big push to get the new juvenile center built.

More out of the public limelight, he's handled thousands of juvenile delinquency matters, and complex paternity cases involving care of children, trying to repair broken families and head off future lives of crime.

His future involves spending more time with grandkids in Washington D.C. and Texas.

His presence in the justice system will soon be gone, but certainly not forgotten.

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