Dereck Meinecke, a 37-year-old former assistant prosecuting attorney for Oakland County, was sworn in Thursday night as the 44th District Court's newest judge.
Retired Judge Daniel Sawicki administered the oath to his former law clerk in the Dondero Auditorium at Royal Oak Middle School.
"We have someone who is going to take over and do a better job than I ever could have because he's much smarter than I am—at least he thinks so," joked Sawicki, who served on the bench in Royal Oak for 32 years.
When we do it, we want to do it big
Mayor Jim Ellison and Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin welcomed the attendees in the packed 900-seat auditorium. The crowd included community members, elected officials, and police officers, including Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue and former Chief Ted Quisenberry.
"This is something we don't do very often, so when we do it, we want to do it big," Ellison said. "I think we've done it big tonight."
Among those in attendance were Oakland County Prosecuter Jessica Cooper, who requested the administration of the oath; Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, who presented Meinecke with the flag of the State of Michigan; and Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner who presented the Oakland County flag.
The 2012 Royal Oak Chargers Freshman Youth Football Team, who are coached by Meinecke, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and Msgr. William Easton, of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Catholic Church gave the benediction.
Commitment to 'serve our great town'
Meinecke's family—wife Mandy, son Drew, 11, daughters Kate, 8, and Jane, 3, and mother Valerie Meinecke, fitted the new judge with his robe, while Judith Cunningham, president of the Oakland County bar association, presented his gavel during the ceremony, which lasted approximately 90 minutes.
"It is an honor to be given this opportunity, and I make this commitment today and every day forward to serve the law and to serve our great town," Meinecke said in his remarks.
Judge Terrence Brennon officially welcomed Meinecke to the bench asking him to be seated amongst the dozens of judges in attendance.
"It's an honor to have you sit with me on the bench and this will probably be the last be last time you'll ever do what I tell you to do," Brennan joked.