LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Jefferson County District Court Judge David Holton can be tough, but on Tuesday afternoon he was lifting people up.
"We appreciate your service and look forward to your continued progress," Holton said.
Jefferson County's Veteran's Treatment Court is for veterans struggling with mental health problems and substance abuse. It's their last shot before jail.
Holton launched the program in 2012, the first of its kind in Kentucky.
He also ended handcuffing juveniles in court. One could call him a judicial history maker.
"I just heard you smile didn't I?" Holton asked as he was talking to a veteran Tuesday. "You were smiling. I don't have to be able to see to know that you're smiling alright."
The judge is blind; another first for the state. A brain tumor caused him to lose his sight at age 10.
"There have been cases when a person leaves my courtroom and someone near me would say, 'Wow judge I wish you could've seen that guy," Holton said. "My response is always the same. I'm glad. I didn't want to be prejudice by how someone looks."
After nine years on the bench, Holton will bang the gavel for the final time at the end of September.
While some would be afraid to face a judge, the people on his docket don't want him go.
"Being in his court really saved my life," Christian Leighninger said.
"I'm not going anywhere alright? I'll be around," Holton said to Leighninger on the stand Tuesday.
Holton's life has been a challenge.
However, with his family by his side, and dog Rocky leading the way, he'll conquer the next chapter and open another door for people like him.
"I told my family and friends that I want to do this job the right way so that I'm not just the first blind judge," he said. "But to make sure that I won't be the last blind judge."