York County Solicitor Mike Flannelly became Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Flannelly Monday morning after a swearing-in ceremony in a packed courtroom at the county's Judicial Center.
Common Pleas Judge Richard K. Renn administered the oath and, for the first time, a robe-donning Flannelly took his seat at the bench in Courtroom 9.
His comments were light-hearted - thanking the board of commissioners who hired him in 2004 and the subsequent board that "did not fire" him, then thanking county administrator Chuck Noll while noting the man's loathing of public recognition - until he recognized the "tragic circumstances" that led to his appointment.
The 56-year-old Flannelly, of Spring Garden Township, filled the seat on the bench left vacant when Judge Chuck Patterson died of a heart attack last year.
Flannelly said he can't replace Patterson, his friend, but he will emulate his patience, dignity, and respect.
"I never heard him speak an unkind word or act out of pettiness or impatience," Flannelly said. "I am not so foolhardy or arrogant to believe that by merely slipping on this robe that I have replaced Judge Patterson."
His role: Flannelly can now begin accepting assignments, taking mostly family and juvenile cases, he said.
Friday was his last day as solicitor. His former assistant, Don Reihart, will fill in until commissioners decide what to do with the vacant position, said President Commissioner Steve Chronister.
Chronister said Flannelly was "the right personality" to be a solicitor, and the county will miss his level-headed decision-making. He always "did his homework before making a decision," and will be a "great judge," he said.
State Sen. Mike Waugh, R-Shrewsbury, submitted Flannelly's name to Gov. Tom Corbett's office last year. Corbett then nominated Flannelly to fill the vacant seat in early June.
Flannelly has been a lawyer in York since 1983, working with the firm that is now CGA for 10 years and working in private practice for 10 years before he became county solicitor about eight years ago.
He had run unsuccessfully for the bench three times, most recently in 2011, and will have to run in the May municipal election if he wants to secure the seat for a full 10-year term.
Flannelly said he will seek the seat in next year's election.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.