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Pa. officials take oaths of office

December 31, 2005|By BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -

The historic courtroom No. 1 in the Franklin County Courthouse was nearly filled Friday morning as judicial, county and municipal officials took their oaths of office.

Judge Douglas Herman conducted the ceremony, in which 26 elected officials promised to support, obey and defend the constitution of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and to discharge the duties of their offices with fidelity.

The Pennsylvania Constitution requires judicial officials to take and subscribe an oath, Herman said.

Spectators, family members, local officials and members of the Franklin County Bar Association observed the proceedings. It was one of the few times that photography was permitted in the courtroom.

President Judge John Walker; re-elected Magisterial District Judges Gary L. Carter, Larry G. Pentz and David E. Hawbaker; and newly elected Magisterial District Judge Duane K. Cunningham were the first to approach the bar and be sworn in by Herman. The men donned black robes to take the oath.

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Following the judicial officials, 21 county and municipal officials swore the same oath.

Walker, who recently completed 20 years on the bench, was retained for another 10-year term in the November general election. The 62-year-old judge said he is permitted by law to work through the year in which he turns 70. He plans to do so, "the good Lord willing and my health stays," he said.

Walker said that one of the biggest changes he has seen over the years is the volume of cases coming through the court.

"When I went into the D.A.'s office in 1972, we saw 400 criminal cases a year and had two judges," Walker said. "I had one assistant D.A. Now, there are 3,000 to 3,500 criminal cases a year, there are four judges and the D.A. has eight or nine people (working) in the office. Civil litigation has increased, also."

"And they wonder why the jail is full," Walker added. "It was built in the early 1970s for 75 inmates, and it wasn't full."

Cunningham, who will start his duties in the Greencastle-Antrim judicial district on Tuesday, said that he wanted to be a community servant and felt that the district judgeship was a match with his personality. He said that he "will use common sense to apply the law to each indivial case."

Robert Eberly, the new mayor of Greencastle, served for 11 years as the first judge in Cunningham's district after the position was created in 1970. Eberly said that he has no agenda as mayor, but that he will look into having more cooperation with Antrim Township, especially in the area of a joint police force.

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