Steven R. Serfass was sworn in Monday morning as Carbon County's third judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
Serfass, 40, of Palmerton, was given the oath of office by Carbon President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II during the historic proceeding, witnessed by about 200 people in Courtroom One of the courthouse in Jim Thorpe.
Serfass' wife, Jenny Cheng Serfass, held the family Bible while his children, Ben, 8, and Hannah, 4, looked on.
Serfass is the 18th judge to be elected in the county.
During the ceremony the county court paid tribute to deceased Judge David W. Addy, who died in December following a yearlong illness.
Serfass said he was sorry he would not have the opportunity to serve on the bench with Addy and said the judge's passing was a great loss for the county.
Serfass thanked his parents, Dennis and Doris Serfass, of Parryville, with instilling in him a work ethic and commitment to public service. He also thanked his wife, who he called his "law school sweetheart and lifetime partner" for all the sacrifices she has made during the years as the two attorneys ran their joint law practice in Palmerton.
Serfass said he looked forward to working with Nanovic and Senior Judge Richard W. Webb, also of Palmerton, who will pick up Judge Addy's caseload until a new jurist is appointed by the governor.
Nanovic said Serfass would be a welcome addition to the bench and will help with an ever-growing caseload of both civil and criminal cases.
Nanovic thanked the county commissioners who helped him convince the state legislature that the county needed a third judge. He also thanked state Rep. Keith McCall for his efforts in obtaining the third judgeship.
He praised the commissioners for the work that is currently being done to make room for a third courtroom, judges' chambers and other improvement to the courthouse.
The project was scheduled to be completed by Jan. 1, but due to delays, the new projected finish date is now at the end of February. In the meantime, Nanovic said accommodations will be made for Serfass to hold court in one of the other two courtrooms or in the annex building.
Webb told Serfass he will find his job to be frustrating at times and very enjoyable at times. Webb said Serfass will find that it will also be a challenging position.
Serfass, a Republican, defeated Democrat Carole Wildoner-Walbert of Jim Thorpe in the November 2009 election by more than 2,000 votes.
Serfass graduated from Temple University and received his law degree from Widener College in Delaware County.
He has practiced law for 14 years. He and his wife owned the Serfass & Cheng Law Office in Palmerton. Cheng said she will continue to run the office. They have been married for 13 years and met while students at Temple. Serfass is a lifelong resident of the county.
Serfass first ran for judge in 1995 upon the retirement of Webb. He, Walbert and Addy ran for the position with Addy winning both party nominations in the primary to secure the post.
The annual program included the swearing in of other elected officials.
Roberta L. Brewster, district court administrator, welcomed those attending the program and briefly highlighted the court's continuing updating of services to the public.
Other remarks were made by attorney Jean Engler, chancellor of the Carbon County Bar Association.
She called the swearing in of Serfass a landmark occasion noting the county begins a new decade with a third judge.
Nanovic praised the work of the court employees. He said the court-related personnel are dedicated individuals and always are professional in performing their duties.
Nanovic, Webb and Serfass took turns in swearing in the various court-related employees as well as individuals elected to positions in their boroughs and townships.
During the proceedings attorney Daniel Devlin was admitted to the county bar. He will serve as Judge Serfass' law clerk.
The Rev. Dr. John D. Inghram, pastor of Faith Alive United Methodist Church, gave the invocation and benediction. He is Serfass' pastor.
A moment of silence was also observed at the beginning of the ceremonies in memory of Judge Addy.