(Stillwater, Okla.) -- In a courtroom packed with about 150 people, Stillwater resident Phillip Corley was sworn into office today as district judge of Payne and Logan counties by former District Judge Donald Worthington, who retired in December after 24 years of service.
Corley, who had served for the past 11 years in an appointive post as a special district judge for Payne County, was elected without opposition in November as Worthington's successor to be chief judge of the 9th judicial district, which became effective today.
After Worthington congratulated Corley, who was robed by his wife, loud applause broke out in the huge courtroom filled with lawyers, law enforcement officers, courthouse employees, friends and family of the new district judge for Payne and Logan counties.
Thanking the large number of people who came to see him take the oath of office this morning in the courtroom that had standing room only, Corley said, "This is a lot bigger crowd than I anticipated especially with the weather."
Corley thanked the Payne County Bar Association for supporting him and all the people who participated in putting together a reception in the historic oval courtroom on the third floor of the Payne County Courthouse, which has been named the Donald L. Worthington District Courtroom.
Corley thanked his wife of 23 years, Katie Drummond Corley, his two children, Ky and Addie, and his parents, Bob and Sharon Corley.
"Approximately seven years ago, my mother was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer -- she's a fighter," said Corley, noting that she got her wish that she would see him become district judge.
Corley thanked the judges present, Payne County Associate District Judge Stephen Kistler, Payne County Special District Judge Michael Stano and Logan County Special District Judge Luke Duel, who was to be sworn into office this afternoon as Associate District Judge for Logan County.
"I think we have some of the best judges in the state of Oklahoma. I wish my good friend and one of my mentors, (the late Stillwater attorney) Keith Thomas, could be here today," Corley said.
"I want to thank Judge Worthington. He's been my mentor -- someone I looked up to -- he's been a rock for this bar (association), the ultimate judge. It will be difficult to follow in his footsteps," said Corley, who was appointed by Worthington in 1999 as a special district judge.
Corley said he hoped to continue being a fair and impartial judge in Payne and Logan counties.
"Thank you once again," concluded Corley, who received a loud standing ovation in the courtroom.
After the event closed, www.StillwaterNews.net asked Corley when he planned to appoint his successor as a special district judge in Payne County.
"Hopefully we'll have someone sworn in by Feb. 1," Corley said.
Corley's background includes having served as a prosecutor on the staff of District Attorney Rob Hudson, as well as being a past president of the Payne County Bar Association and Starting Point II.
Corley is a graduate of Pawhuska High School, Oklahoma State University where he received a bachelor's degree in history and the school of law at the University of Oklahoma where he received the degree of Juris Doctorate.
When he announced his candidacy for the elective post of district judge last March, Corley said, "The decisions a judge makes have profound effect not only on the litigants themselves, but also on their families and often on the citizens of our community and they cannot, must not be made lightly.
"As a judge, I have striven to be just and fair, always mindful of the effect of my decisions and of my oath to uphold the laws of the state of Oklahoma," added Corley, who pledged to continue "the fairness, integrity and respect for the law which are the tradition of the courts of Payne and Logan counties."