I'm excited to attend the investiture this afternoon of Judges Carico and Dotson, and it seems as good a time as any to recall tales of swearings-in past.
On the day when Justice Kinser was sworn in at Lee High School in Ben Hur, it was a great day. I rode over from Bristol with Jim Green and Joe Lyle. Afterwards, as the day was fine, I suggested that instead of going straight back to Bristol, we should detour to see my grandmother on the other side of Jonesville, and so we did. We almost missed her, she arrived as we were walking back to the car. You could hear the gravel fly as she mashed the brakes when she realized there were three men in dark suits standing in the road in front of her house. She came on, and oh, she was so glad to see us, and how handsome we were, she said, in our lawyer suits. We began trying to explain to her what we were doing in Lee County that day. I told her we had been to the high school. She said, "oh, were you taking a course?" "No, Grandma, we were there for a ceremony." Jim began telling her what a historic event it was, the elevation of a lawyer from Lee County to the highest court in Virginia.
But Grandma was unimpressed. She replied, as only a grandma could: "Well, now, Steven will be right up there soon."
Some years later, I attended the event for Judge Freeman at the Lincoln Theatre in downtown Marion. Following some good advice from Judge Flannagan, Judge Freeman studied the crowd, to savor the moment. When it came his time to speak, he said essentially this: "I've been looking out at you during the speeches, and I know every one here. And I know that each of you knows at least one story which if declared publicly would have kept me from ever becoming a judge." His words had the power of a hypnotic suggestion - there was a moment of silence as each person searched his or her mind, then everyone laughed.
Of course, Judge Freeman, the accomplished storyteller that he is, exaggerates sometimes.