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Judge John M. Jacobsen remembered for his courtroom courteousness, compassion

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Judge John M. Jacobsen signs adoption papers for Nathanial Reeves Ingram.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- There was often a festive atmosphere in Judge John M. Jacobsen’s courtroom on Friday mornings in the Oklahoma County Juvenile Justice Center.

Jacobsen was a juvenile court judge in Oklahoma County, and for most of the weeks his dockets dealt with young people who had been had been found to be deprived of the family support children need, but on Friday he presided over adoptions for some of those children.

While the judge usually displayed a serious but courteous demeanor while he presided from the bench, on Fridays he beamed with joy as he formalized adoptions.

The jurist maintained an arsenal of toys for the adoptees, and allowed each of them to select one.

Pictures were often taken of the children with their new parents and siblings, and Jacobsen displayed endless patience as social workers and others asked to be part of pictures with him and the children.

And some of those children and their parents, along with numerous judges, attorneys, friends and family members, were in attendance for the Jan. 7th memorial service that was held for Judge Jacobsen, who had died suddenly on Christmas Day, at the Church of Latter-Day Saints in Oklahoma City.

Jacobsen was eulogized by two of his four sons as well as by Oklahoma County Judge Harold Haralson, and they all spoke with emotion of his commitment to his family, faith and the welfare of the children who came before him.

They also shared anecdotes that detailed Jacobsen’s concerns for others and his genial and unpretentious nature.

John Jacobsen was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1958, and after he graduated from Brigham Young University in that community in 1983 he came to Oklahoma City to attend Oklahoma City University School of Law.

After he completed his education there in 1986 he went to work for the Oklahoma City’s City Attorney’s Office.

He later transferred to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office and worked in the Civil Division.

Jacobsen worked well the various county offices that that office provides legal representation to and developed a reputation as a dedicated civil servant whose word could be relied upon by all of those who he dealt with.

Later, Jacobsen was promoted to the position of First Assistant District Attorney in 1999 and later served as Chief of the Civil Division of that office.

In 2011 he was appointed as a Special District Judge for Oklahoma County and was assigned to the Juvenile Division of that court.

In addition to Nancy Jacobsen, his wife of 35 years, the mourners included friends and relatives who appeared to be numb with the grief generated by his sudden passing at a relatively young age -58.

But those young people who were in attendance at the memorial service with the families that had adopted them in his courtroom spoke to Judge Jacobsen’s continuing legacy to the children of Oklahoma County.

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About the Author

Bill O'Brien

Bill O'Brien is an attorney based in Oklahoma City.

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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