10 take oath of office, including Judges Patrick Carmody, Jeffrey R. Sommer
By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times
A swearing-in ceremony rescheduled from Friday played out in Chester County Court on Monday with the black robes of two new judges dominating the spotlight.
Four row officers – Robin Marcello, clerk of courts; Norman MacQueen, controller; Dr. Gordon R. Eck, coroner; and Ann Duke, treasurer – took the oath as did four judges reelected to 10-year terms: President Judge James P. MacElree II and Judges Jacqueline C. Cody, Edward Griffith, and John L. Hall.
But it was the newcomers to the bench – Jeffrey R. Sommer and Patrick Carmody – who garnered the bulk of the attention. MacElree explained that their addition brings the court to 12 jurists, representing a full complement for the first time in “a number of years.” Two senior judges will work part time.
“You are now much smarter,” MacElree said as Sommer donned his new attire.
Introducing Sommer, Senior Judge Ronald C. Nagle, a former member and founder of the Buckley & Nagle law firm in West Chester, said he “was instrumental in hiring Jeff” at the practice and had the wisdom of his judgement reinforced.
“Jeff is going to be a terrific judge. He has a good head on his shoulders, and he is a no-nonsense kind of person,” Nagle said, adding that Sommer, the father of three sons, is also a soccer devotee, having played and coached extensively.
Describing the day as surreal, Sommer said, “I promise that I will work as hard here as I did there.” He also expressed gratitude to the many people who helped him win the election. “No one stands here solely because of their own efforts,” he said.
MacElree suggested that the judicial garb would have powerful benefits for Carmody as well: “That robe will cover your wrinkled suit.” Feigning surprise, Carmody, a longtime prosecutor, retorted: “This is my nicest suit.”
Carmody received introductions from two women, both of whom lost loved ones to homicide and credited Carmody with going above and beyond in seeking justice for them.
Deb Iwaniec, whose son Kenton E. Iwaniec died at the hands of a drunk driver in 2008 as he was returning home from his shift as a new state trooper in Avondale, called Carmody “a truly good man” and a “seeker of truth and justice.”
Ari Caramanica, who was 2 in 1991 when her mother was strangled to death by her father in their East Goshen home, described Carmody’s role as a surrogate relative, showing up unannounced at events ranging from her basketball games to her graduation from Harvard.
Carmody, who also thanked his supporters, including his wife and three children, explained that it was not arrogance that prompted him to have two speakers, but rather the chance to highlight the ways in which people can turn a crisis into opportunity.
He said his interactions with both families helped him realize the positive effects an attorney could have. “No one comes into a courtroom happy, he said. “What we do as attorneys and judges matters.”