Get thee to an investiture!

jeremy-rachlin-revIt is investiture season in Montgomery County! For those to whom the term is new, an investiture is the ceremony where a judicial appointee is formally “invested” as a judge on their court.

Last month, Gov. Larry Hogan appointed three new judges to our Montgomery County Circuit Court. One of these circuit court appointments created an additional District Court vacancy, compounding the three already there. But shortly after the circuit court judicial appointments, he announced four district court appointments.

For those mathematically-challenged, that is seven judicial appointments here in Montgomery County. And, in turn, seven investiture ceremonies between Jan. 5 through Feb. 2. In fact, this week alone, during the four days that our courthouse is open, three of those evenings will see investitures in our ceremonial courtroom.

As our Circuit Administrative Judge Robert Greenberg has proclaimed at the start of each of these investiture ceremonies, his courtroom (our ceremonial courtroom) spends the majority of its time conducting the ordinary business of the court. And, as Greenberg notes, seldom is the case where everybody leaves his courtroom happy. With, of course, the exception of a judicial investiture. These are celebratory events and, for the judge-designates, often the culmination of decades of legal practice and years of toil through the judicial nomination process.

What I find most enjoyable about judicial investitures is learning about our newest judge. Even if I have frequently broken bread with a judge-designate at an Inn of Court meeting or other bar event, I find that I learn so much more about him/her at their investiture. I learn about the high (and sometimes low) points in their career. I learn about their families. I hear from those who have served as mentors and inspirations to those who have now achieved the position of judge. There is frequently laughter, sometimes at the expense of the incoming judge. Importantly, I believe common themes can be drawn and learned from the paths of these judge-designates who have been successful in their professional lives and have conducted themselves with decency, decorum, and civility.

For young attorneys, fear not if you are not one of the recipients of a personalized invitation to an investiture. If the investiture is advertised by your local bar association, chances are very high it’s open to all members of your local bar association.

If you hear of a judicial appointment in your jurisdiction, and if the investiture is open to you as a member of the local bar association, get thee to an investiture! You’ll have fun. You’ll learn. And maybe you’ll even score a glass of wine and a plate of good food at a post-ceremony reception.

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