The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local News

January 28, 2014

Former Anderson County DA, judge Melvin Whitaker dies at 81



Palestine attorney Jim Parsons, a retired 3rd District Court Judge, had the highest respect for Whitaker.

“Melvin and I were partners for 10 years in law practice with Jim Bob Paxton. He was my mentor when I first started practicing in the 1970s, staying until around 1980,” Parsons told the Herald-Press Monday. “He was an outstanding lawyer, district attorney and judge. He was a great advocate for the state of Texas as a district attorney and a great advocate for his clients in civil cases and criminal cases.”

Whitaker was a role model for attorneys and those practicing law in Anderson County, Parsons said.

“He was one of the finest judges we had. I rank him alongside Judge Lawrence as one of the finest judges I've ever practiced with,” Parsons said. “Above all, if you knew Melvin, his faith was paramount in his life. He didn't just talk the talk, he walked the walk. He died in church. I know he would have wanted to go that way.”

369th District Court Judge Bascom W. Bentley III also respected Whitaker's dedication to law and his faith.

“He was a good, honest, decent, noble Christian man. He had a good legal mind as I've ever seen. More than once I relied on it. But he also was a devout Christian. He helped me with my faith more than once,” Bentley told the Herald-Press. “There are not words to describe how much I respected and loved that man.”

Bentley was serving as county attorney in the mid-'70s while Whitaker was serving in the District Attorney's office next to him.

“I took a lot of questions and problems to him to solve. And we were judges together. Melvin and I walked through the same doors at the courthouse many times,” Bentley said. “It was a honor and privilege to know him.”

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