Joseph Jude Matika, 48, was sworn in Tuesday morning as Carbon County's 19th Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
Matika, of Mahoning Township, took the oath of office from President Judge Roger N. Nanovic and pledged to continue the "reputation and tradition" the county court has for fairness and equality to all.
Matika's elevation to judge was part of the county court's swearing in ceremony held in courtroom one on the second floor of the courthouse in Jim Thorpe.
Other county officials who were elected last November in the general election received their oath of office from Nanovic, Judge Steven R. Serfass and Senior Judge Richard W. Webb.
Matika was elected judge when he won both the Democratic and Republican nominations in the May 2011 primary. His election to the 10-year term was affirmed by voters in November. A Democrat, Matika has been an assistant district attorney in the county since Jan. 14, 1994.
He thanked his family and friends in helping him obtain his "dream" of becoming a common pleas judge.
Matika singled out his wife, Jeanine Lee, and his four children, for their unwavering support through the course of the long campaign leading up to his election.
Matika said he looked forward to working with Nanovic, Serfass and Webb in continuing the tradition of excellence the county court has achieved over the years.
He said he realizes the job ahead is a difficult one but with the help of his fellow judges he would work hard for the citizens of the county.
Matika is a graduate of Panther Valley High School, King's College in Wilkes-Barre, and the University of Bridgeport School of Law in Bridgeport, Conn.
His law experience is not just on the criminal side. At the time he announced last year his intention to run for judge he was serving as an arbitrator, a position he had held for 22 years, and held solicitorships for Summit Hill borough, Rush Township Zoning Hearing Board, Walker Township Zoning Hearing Board, Schuylkill Township Zoning Hearing Board, Tamaqua Zoning Hearing Board, Carbon County Solid Waste Management, and Carbon County Farmland Preservation Agency.
He also once served as solicitor for the Carbon County Tax Claim Bureau, Carbon County Area Agency on Aging, Carbon County Children and Youth, and the Summit Hill Zoning Hearing Board.
Nanovic, Serfass and Webb each welcomed Matika to the bench. Webb noted that his "retirement" might finally begin.
Webb has been serving the county on a full-time basis for the past year and more and since the untimely death of Judge David Addy in 2010. Webb has carried a full case load since Addy's death.
Nanovic thanked Webb for his willingness to help the county by handling a full case load. Nanovic noted that Webb's work is not quite done. He will serve next week as Matika must attend mandated schooling before he begins hearing cases.
Matika was introduced by his longtime law partner, attorney Joseph Velitsky, of Summit Hill. Velitsky told the full courtroom that Matika told him early in his partnership that a lifelong dream of his was to become a judge.
Others sworn in
Nanovic was administered the oath of office by Serfass. Nanovic won another 10-year term in the November election on a retention vote. Nanovic won retention by a significant margin.
Also sworn in were magisterial District Judge William Kissner, who was elected to the position being vacated by Bruce Appleton, who retired. Kissner will serve the Palmerton area.
DJ's Edward Lewis of Jim Thorpe and Casimir Kosciolek of Lansford, were re-elected last fall to new six-year terms and were sworn in by the county judges.
Also sworn in were row office holders, all who were re-elected.
Given the oath of office was District Attorney Gary F. Dobias; Recorder of Deeds Emmett McCall; Controller Robert Crampsie; Prothonotary Joann Behrens; Sheriff Dwight Nothstein; and Coroner Bruce Nalesnik.
Also sworn in were the various court-related and county employees who work at the courthouse.
Local officials who were sworn in were Lansford council members Rosemary Cannon and Mary Kruczek-Soberick, Summit Hill Councilman Jesse Walck; and Lehighton Councilman Grant Hunsicker.
Appleton, who retired after more than 25 years as a district judge, was honored by Nanovic.
Nanovic thanked him for his years of service to the county and presented him with a certificate of appreciation signed by the three county judges.
Appleton said he was recently appointed a senior district judge and will serve when needed anywhere in the state as directed by the state court.
Nanovic told the gathering that the foundation of a democracy is the service of elected officials who are willing to serve the public, most with minimum pay.
He thanked all persons who have run for office and who serve the public.
Roberta L. Brewster, district court administrator, opened the ceremonies and welcomed those present for attending.
Remarks were also made by Serfass and Webb and attorney David B. Shulman, chancellor of the Carbon County Bar Association.
Serfass said public service is a worthy calling and also thanked those who serve in elected offices.
The invocation was given by the Rev. James Bechtel, pastor of St. Jerome Catholic Church, in Tamaqua, and the benediction was given by the Rev. Alan Heckman, pastor of Zion United Church of Christ of Lehighton.