May 01, 2017

The Swearing-In

By Judge Bradley S. Knoll

Seems like more pomp and circumstance than I remember. Judges and elected officials are paraded in along with a Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard. It’s a good show. The kids lead the Pledge of Allegiance. The county bar produces the judicial robe and the gavel that will decorate the bench as a silent and unused symbol of 1,000 years of Anglo-American common law tradition.

I have only a few recollections of my own swearing-in ceremony 14 years ago. The euphoria of the election win had worn off and was replaced by a generalized anxiety about my first new job in 25 years. I remember the awkward feel of my crisp new robe and the encounter with the chief judge of the circuit court who, clapping his big paw on my shoulder, cheerfully said, “Don’t worry; you’ll do just fine. Just remember that there’s nothing you can do that I can’t promptly overturn.” The comment, given in jest, was actually very comforting.

Already at my spot on the program. As the chief judge of our court, I’ll be offering my remarks for the swearing in of my newest colleague as a trial judge in the Michigan District Court. These will consist of a brief series of platitudes that will not convey my feelings as a judge about this job and this court in this wonderfully typical small town. Perhaps I’ll share them with you in time, but it’s probably best that you make these discoveries yourself. I’ll keep this simple.

“Thank you all for your attendance today at this ceremony passing the torch from a retiring judge with 30 years’ experience to a new judge who will, in a half hour, have 30 minutes of experience.”

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