District Judge makes time for teaching

Matthew Swiger

Bob Brotherton, sitting judge in Wichita Falls' 30th District Court, leads a study session for a Criminal Justice class on November 10th at 6 pm in the Martin Building. Photo by Rachel Johnson
Bob Brotherton, sitting judge in Wichita Falls’ 30th District Court, leads a study session for a Criminal Justice class on November 10th at 6 pm in the Martin Building. Photo by Rachel Johnson

It is easy to find professors at Midwestern State University who now teach in the field they once worked, but it is much harder to find professors who still work in the field they teach. However, the Criminal Justice Department is home to one such individual.

Judge Bob Brotherton is the sitting judge in Wichita County’s 30th District Court, but Brotherton is also an adjunct professor who teaches a night class, and he has been doing so for nearly 10 years.

The typical work of a judge consists of copious amounts of paperwork and cases to deal with, so Brotherton is already swamped with work, but, surprisingly, he said teaching does not add to his busy schedule.

“Teaching is actually a stress reliever for me,” Brotherton said. “I prepare for class around my judicial duties.”

Along with his own experience, Brotherton brings a guest speaker to each class to share their experience in the courtroom and legal departments.

The most notable speaker this semester was Wichita County District Attorney Maureen Shelton. She not only offered students a way of understanding what goes on in the District Attorney’s office, but an example of success found from Midwestern.

Shelton was once a student of Midwestern State University. She was an instructor here as well, and according to the Judge, she was the reason he gained an interest in teaching.

“She would invite me to speak to her class once a semester,” Brotherton said, “That got me interested [in teaching].”

Brotherton said he hopes the lectures are more impactful on students as they do not rely solely on the books to teach.

“We try to bring our experience to illustrate how things actually work in day-to-day practice,” Brotherton explains.

It is no secret that Brotherton’s name appears on the ballots during election time as District County judges are elected, but Brotherton said he doesn’t teach the class to gain political favor.

“Politics is not a consideration in my teaching,” Brotherton said. “I doubt that teaching impacts me politically.”

Besides his Tuesday night class, Brotherton sets aside Monday nights before exams to hold a review session for his students. During this, he answers any questions the students have that pertains to the approaching exam, or any other subject material they need help with.

Brotherton said it was his desire to bring his experiences to the students that brought him to Midwestern, as Judge Brotherton contacted the chair at the time, Mark David, to find out if he could teach as an adjunct.

There are times as well where Judge Brotherton is happy to assist other professors in the department. On occasion, if he is in the building, a professor may ask him to say a few words about a topic they plan to cover in class.

“I hope to continue to teach,” Brotherton said. “Teaching full-time after I retire is something that I have thought about.”