Judges take oath - Other county officials sworn in Friday
By BRIAN SCHROCK
Daily American Staff Writer
Friday, December 30, 2005 11:32 PM CST
A courtroom full of attorneys, elected officials and family members welcomed two new judges into the fold Friday, as judges-elect D. Gregory Geary and David Klementik took the oath of office inside Courtroom No. 1 of the Somerset County Courthouse.
The new judges were joined by four district judges, five row officers and dozens of municipal officials who also were sworn into office.
But it was Geary and Klementik, fresh off wins in an historic November election, who drew the lion's share of the attention
And it was Geary, fresh off an intense campaign and a 14-month tour of duty in Tuzla, Bosnia, who drew emotion from the audience when he thanked his family for their time and sacrifice. Geary, 42, is married to Lois Witt Geary, also an attorney, and has two children, Courtney, 8, and Ben, 4.
“My children had to endure many evenings with baby-sitting while we were out campaigning. Or worse yet, sometimes we took them along with us,” he said to laughter.
The new judge then turned to his children, each dressed in their Sunday best, and said words that brought tears to more than one set of eyes.
“Daddy is very proud of you,” he said.
Klementik also thanked his wife, the former Ruth E. Whalley, his colleagues on the Somerset County Bar Association and the residents of Somerset County for electing him. Klementik pledged to work hard and earn continued respect “for this instrument of law.”
“To the people of Somerset County, I will pray daily for justice in my heart,” said Klementik, 56.
Geary also thanked the voters.
“I thank you for placing your trust in me when you cast your ballot on election day. I will work every day to justify that trust ... I'm very mindful of the high standards set by my predecessors.”
After receiving the oath of office, Geary and Klementik donned shiny black robes with the help of their wives and joined the current trio of Somerset County judges behind the bench. The two new judges will replace Judge Sandra Upor, who is leaving a post she filled temporarily, and President Judge Eugene Fike II, who is retiring following two decades of service.
Bar association President Jeffrey L. Berkey recognized Fike's contributions in his opening remarks.
“He has approached each day in his term with decency, humility and respect, both for the office and for those who put him there,” Berkey said.
Fike administered the oath of office to Judge John M. Cascio, who becomes the county's new president judge upon Fike's retirement. Fike called Cascio a “diligent, qualified worker” and said he would miss working with him.
The newly elected officials were presented by a person of their choosing. In Klementik's case, it was Somerset County Solicitor Daniel Rullo, who noted the candidate's commitment to community service as evidenced by his work with Windber Medical Center, Windber Research Institute and the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce.
Geary was presented by his wife.
“I believe the citizens of Somerset County will be well served by Greg's ascension to the bench,” she said.
As proxies for the candidates, Rullo and Lois Geary drew straws to determine which judge would hold seniority over the other. Geary's wife pulled the shorter of the two.
“I don't know how that's sitting at home,” Fike joked.
Also taking the oath of office Friday were district judges Susan Mankamyer, Arthur Cook, Sandra Stevanus and Douglas McCall Bell, Prothonotary Angie Svonavec, jury commissioners Sandra Miller and Alice Musser, Treasurer Donna Matsko Schmitt, and Coroner Wallace Miller.
Retiring District Judge William Roush of Boswell received a plaque in recognition of his 24 years in office.
Thirty-six municipal officials also were scheduled to take part in the swearing-in ceremony.