Judge David W. Soukup, founder of the Court Appointed Special Advocate and Guardian Ad Litem (CASA/GAL) movement, passed away recently, at the age of 90.
Judge Soukup started the first CASA program in Seattle, Washington, in 1977. He was a juvenile court judge who had concerns about making decisions for abused and neglected children without having complete information. When asked about his vision behind creating the CASA program, Judge Soukup has been quoted to say, “While sitting at juvenile court, I never got a night’s sleep without waking to wonder if at least one decision I made that day had been the best for a child. It struck me that it might be possible to recruit and train volunteers to investigate a child’s case so they could provide a voice for the child in those proceedings, proceedings which could affect their whole lives.
“I had my bailiff call four or five people in the community who might be resources in recruiting volunteers to ask if they would meet for a brown bag lunch at juvenile court to discuss the idea. There were 50 people in the room when I walked in for that lunch. I thought, ‘This idea is going to work.’ It has. Tens of thousands of people speaking up for hundreds of thousands of children have proven that it does.
“After I retired from the bench, I became a volunteer. It was an extraordinary experience. Both the hardest—and the best—thing I’ve ever done.”
We thank you, Judge Soukup, for your dedication to the abused and neglected children in our nation. Your legacy will live on and impact the generations yet to come.
You can find The Seattle Times obituary for Judge Soukup here.