The Denison City Council recently honored outgoing Municipal Judge Phillip Shaffer for his nearly three decades of service to the city. In honor of his decades of service, the city held a reception and presented Shafer with an award during its most recent council meeting.

“Your commitment, judge, to the rule of law and justice, tempered with heart, has made a difference in untold lives,” Denison Mayor Janet Gott said.

Shaffer said he enjoyed his time as judge as it gave him a perspective on the legal system that he otherwise did not see from his focus on civil law. Shaffer said he planned to spend his new free time traveling with his family and to focus on his own legal practice.

“I am going to miss it, but when I am in Italy, I am not going to miss it at all,” he said.

The city previously accepted Shaffer’s resignation during the first council meeting of the year. In addition to his 27 years on the bench in Denison, Shaffer spent an additional 10 years as the judge for the city of Bells.

The council ultimately decided to combine the judge position with the then-vacant magistrate position, effectively creating a new judge magistrate role within Denison. That position will require the judge to be available to perform magistration dues to people in custody within 24 hours of arrest. Denison officials previously said they have recently added a new system that will allow a judge to perform those duties remotely through online video.

This new position was ultimately filled by Don Banman, who previously served as the city’s associate judge and acted as an alternate for Shaffer. The council voted in February to appoint Brett Evens as the new associate judge, effectively filling the vacancy created by Banman’s promotion. Evans also currently serves on the city’s planning and zoning commission and the Denison Development Alliance’s board of directors.

For his part, Evans said he was excited for the new position, as it would offer a new perspective for him. In many ways, Evans said he came from a similar background as Shaffer and shared his curiosity for the other side of the legal system.

“I thought this would be an interesting way to serve the city in a different capacity than my current one with the DDA and P&Z,” he said.