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WE CONGRATULATE: Judge Armstrong's retirement ruling

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District Judge Linda Armstrong's stepping down is appropriate and may help clean up a small mess.

After a couple of weeks of pretty nasty comments and a festering situation, District Judge Linda Armstrong did the right thing Monday by announcing she would resign in March, nine months before the end of her term as judge of District 53, Division I.

Ms. Armstrong had announced on the day after filing deadline, Jan. 30, that she was withdrawing her bid for re-election to serve Anderson, Shelby and Spencer counties. She cited health problems and said her decision had been made the prior weekend, after discussions with her family.

She has served long and ably, and we could embrace those decisions from Ms. Armstrong.

But then we learned that there was a bit of old-fashioned, back-room politics at play.

First, Ms. Armstrong declined to notify members of the bar in her 3-county district – even during a meeting the day before the deadline in Shelby County – that she would be withdrawing at the final hour.

Second, her son-in-law, the apparently capable attorney J.R. RoBards, in fact would be filing right on that same deadline to replace her.

Only the surprise entry of Commonwealth Attorney Laura Donnell into the race negated what had all the appearances of an inside handoff of an important position for which all the people should make the decision, not just a few from a selected family.

Our intent here is not to endorse either Mr. RoBards or Ms Donnell. We trust the election process will filter out the better of the two.

But we will endorse Ms. Armstrong’s decision – health-related though it may be – as being appropriate to clear the air and take away her role as the albatross flying over the election season.

To that point, we wish her good health and thank her for her service. We heard no complaints about her decorum or decisions on the bench.

Her resignation clears up those questions off of it.