It was ‘standing room only’ Friday afternoon (December 28) for an historic ‘Investiture Program’ that saw the swearing in of TWO new judges in St. Joseph County – and what better place for the half-hour ceremony than the Historic Courtroom/Commission Room of the Courthouse in Centreville!
Incoming Probate Judge David Tomlinson and District Judge Robert ‘Rob’ Pattison were officially installed in the positions they won for six-year terms in the November 6th General Election.
As noted at the outset by the Honorable Paul Stutesman, St. Joseph County Circuit Judge and Chief Judge, the event constituted a combined gathering of THREE courts. Stutesman said, “Actually, what we have this afternoon is the pleasure of having all three courts in session. This is the Probate Court for the County of St. Joseph, the 3-B District Court for the County of St. Joseph, and the 45th Circuit Court for the County of St. Joseph, so welcome to all.” And, as pointed out by District Judge Jeff Middleton a bit later in the program, the program was history-making in nature: “All of these people here are here to wish both of our new judges all the best. I don’t believe in history there have been two judges sworn in at the same time and it’s quite a privilege, an honor for me to be here.”
Among the more than 100 people on hand to witness the investiture was the Honorable Stephen Gorsalitz, a visiting judge from Kalamazoo County’s Circuit Court/Family Division. Gorsalitz was introduced and welcomed by Stutesman who identified him also as a member of the St. Joseph County Bar Association who “attends a lot of our meetings.”
Retiring Probate Judge Thomas Shumaker presided over the investiture of Tomlinson as his successor, activity that included the “passing of the gavel.” Shumaker noted that the gavel was purchased by Tomlinson’s wife, Linda, and he read the inscription it: “The Honorable David C. Tomlinson, St. Joseph County Probate Judge, December 28, 2012.” (Thomas Shumaker audio clip – :34)
St. Joseph County Clerk Pattie Bender administered the oath of office to Tomlinson – and later, to Pattison. (Pattie Bender audio clip – :24)
In both cases, the investiture ceremony included “robing” of the new judges with the black robes traditionally worn by judges in the conduct of their judicial responsibilities.
Both new judges thanked their wives and others in commenting on their new judicial offices and the campaigns that brought their election.
In his opening remarks, Tomlinson said, “I’m just really humbled to be here – to have the people put the faith in me to put me into this office. . . . I vow to do my best to discharge my duties to the absolute best of my ability and I do thank all of you.”
In closing, Tomlinson looked to the future and said, “I wish to see many of the innovative programs that were established by Judge Shumaker continue and prosper.” And he said, “I also want to see all the agencies and programs work together for the benefit of the most needy members of our county – the abused and neglected children, the elderly, the developmentally disabled, the mentally ill, the juvenile delinquents, and I pledge to you – to the very best of my abilities – to be the best judge that I can possibly be, to serve all the people, and to serve with what my friend Rob said at one time, ‘with a servant’s heart.’ Thank you all so much for being here.” (David Tomlinson audio clip – 1:22)
In passing the gavel for the District Court position to Pattison, retiring Judge William Welty said, “Rob, I’m here to pass the gavel to you and I want to say that there’s no one that I would rather pass it to than you.” Welty talked of a “report card” regarding his successor and mentioned three “F’s” on the card – for faith, family and fairness.” He said, “I think those three qualities mark you as I know you.” And Welty closed by saying, “I’m very proud to pass the gavel to you, Rob. I gave birth to this court and now it’s up to you to take it to the next level and I know you will.” (William Welty audio clip – 2:41)
In his remarks, Pattison said, “I’m truly blessed to be here today.” And, in his closing comments, he reflected on an orientation that he and Tomlinson attended “a few weeks back” and, in the course of his remarks, paid tribute to Welty. He said, “I’m going to have the burden of following a tremendous judge. He’s left some very big shoes to fill, but I promise all of you I will make my best effort to do just that and follow in his footsteps. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity.” (Robert Pattison audio clip – 1:39)
A reception – held nearby in the History Room of the Historic Courthouse – followed the investiture program.
To view the printed program for the investiture ceremony, click here.
To hear the entire ceremony, click on the following link: Investiture Program (19:54 – 27.3 MB).