Joseph Getty was sworn in Monday morning in the House of Delegates chamber in the Maryland State House in Annapolis to represent the 3rd Appellate Judicial Circuit on the state's highest court.
Getty, a Manchester resident and former Republican state senator representing Carroll County, had most recently served as Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's chief legislative officer. He was appointed to the Maryland Court of Appeals on June 1 to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Lynne Battaglia.
Friends, family, former and current judges, and members of the General Assembly filled the legislative chamber to witness Hogan administer the oath of office for Getty to become the fifth judge from Carroll County to sit on the Court of Appeals since 1867.
Many speakers at the ceremony mentioned that Getty also made history by having served in all three branches of Maryland government — the legislative, executive branches and now the judiciary. It was a point not missed by local historian, Jay Graybeal, the former executive director of the Historical Society of Carroll County; a position also held by Getty from 1987 to 1994.
"It is a great day for Carroll County and the state of Maryland," he said. "We are very proud of Joe Getty and this well-deserved appointment. History was made today."
Getty, 64, served on the state Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee, representing District 5, from 2011 until he resigned in January 2015 to assume his position in the governor's office. Prior to serving in the Senate, Getty was the policy and legislative director from 2004 to 2007 for Republican Gov. Robert Erhlich. He also represented Carroll in the House of Delegates from 1995 to 2003.
"Joe is a man of integrity and compassion," said Republican Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, who led the ceremony. "He is the best person for the job. I heartily congratulate the governor for a great choice of my former colleague."
Following an invocation by the Rev. Melissa Rudolph, of the North Carroll Cooperative Parish, House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Mike Miller, both Democrats, praised Getty.
"He always has the best intentions for the citizens of Maryland," Busch said of Getty. "He is a man of integrity. Congratulations to Gov. Hogan for an excellent choice."
"It is a happy day and a sad day," Miller said. "The legislature will lose a great unifier. But it is a great moment for the Court of Appeals. Judge Getty brings to the court an extraordinary depth of experience and knowledge."
After the oath was administered, with Getty's wife, Susan, holding the large 1772 family Bible, the "robing of the judge" was conducted by Getty's children, Justus, Nathan, Laura, Emma, Madison and Samuel.
Hogan echoed the comments that he made upon the announcement of Getty's appointment June 1.
"Joe is a devoted public servant who has spent his entire career and a good portion of his life in service to his community and to our state," the governor said. "His unquestionable integrity, deep legal expertise, and devotion to the people of Maryland make him an excellent fit for the state's highest court. I have complete confidence that he will continue to be a strong advocate for the law and our citizens while serving on the court."
In his prepared remarks, childhood friend Chuck Hollman was quick to recognize Getty's wife and the entire Getty family for the commitment and sacrifices that must be made by sharing a statewide leader such as Getty, with the citizens of Maryland. Hollman went on to tell a few stories from growing-up with Getty that caused the audience to laugh in an otherwise solemn occasion.
Many speakers remarked that Getty is a student of history and the law, and a legislative tactician.
"To play against Getty in a game of three-dimensional chess would be a fool's errand," said David Brinkley, a close colleague of Getty's in the General Assembly and now secretary of the Maryland Department of Budget and Management.
In his prepared remarks, Getty spoke at great length about the rich history of the court and many of the distinguished judges who have served in the past.
He was sure to recognize Tim Dixon, the son of another accomplished Carroll County native legislator, and the late Richard Dixon, who later went on to serve as the state treasurer. But Getty noted that he learned much of his strategic approach to legislative matters and maneuvering from Dixon while serving in the House in the mid to late 1990s.
Getty spoke of the Federalist No. 78, penned by Alexander Hamilton and published on May 28 and June 14, 1788; which was addressed primarily to concerns over the power, structure, and scope of the judiciary.
He noted that the essay identified the executive branch as the sword of government and the legislature as wielding the purse strings of government, but teased the audience of accomplished jurists, legislators and academicians that the essay suggested that the judiciary was characterized as possibly being the weakest of the three branches — perhaps to assuage the fears of the architects of our constitution. At the conclusion of his remarks Getty, opined that it was his learned-opinion that perhaps the judiciary was the rock of the three branches.