Tod Young, Douglas County's newest judge, vowed Friday before more than 300 friends and family members to continue the legacy created by his predecessors in the Ninth Judicial District Court.
"I promise to all of you to try to be the judge you are proud of, the judge in this community you are happy to have," Young said shortly after he was sworn in by Senior Judge Peter Breen.
"I hope to be the type of judge who earns your faith. Whether you agree or disagree with me, I hope you'll say, 'He did that right. He gave that honestly,'" Young said.
Young was helped into his black robe by his son Elliot and daughter Skylar who attended the ceremony with several other members of the judge's family.
Elliot told the gathering that "life is full of trial and errors, and the one person who has been there despite my mistakes is my father."
"He taught me the most important thing is to never give up and to work as hard as you can until your dream becomes a reality," Elliot said. "And this is his dream."
Young, 54, said he asked Breen to preside at the ceremony because the retired judge was the type of jurist he hoped to become.
Young told the story of nervously appearing before Breen in 1986 as a young lawyer, his first day of work at a Reno law firm.
Before the arraignment, Breen asked Young to approach the bench.
"Judge Breen extended his hand to me, and said, 'I don't believe I know you,' and welcomed me to his court,'" Young said. "After that I was calm, and the arraignment was fine.
"It was an exhibition of how to make the courtroom friendly. It was an exhibition of the kind of judge I hope to be."
District Judge Michael Gibbons welcomed the audience which packed the Department One courtroom and spilled out into the second floor of the Judicial and Law Enforcement Center.
He introduced several judges in the audience from other jurisdictions, elected officials, and Senior Judge Dave Gamble whose retirement in January created the opening for Young's appointment.
"You have to fill some pretty big shoes," Gibbons said, referring to Gamble's 25 years on the bench. "When somebody's been here 25 years, and made such a mark on the county, you're going to have to work really hard to live up to what Judge Gamble did. I know you can do the job."
District Attorney Mark Jackson introduced Young as a friend and colleague of 22 years.
He said because of Young's "judicial temperament" and character, he has earned a reputation as a highly respected criminal defense attorney, even among people who appear as his adversaries in court.
"He knows that respect is a two-way street. Tod has been doing that his entire career. Speaking of judicial temperament, in 22 years he has never had a bad day that he carried over into the courtroom. He always does a great job," Jackson said.
Young was appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval to fill the final two years of Gamble's six-year term. He faces election in 2014.
He was admitted to the Nevada bar in 1985, and has worked primarily in criminal defense. Until his appointment, Young was one of Douglas County's three contract attorneys who represent indigent criminal defendants.
He is a graduate of Mississippi College School of Law.
He has served as an adjunct professor and a guest lecturer at Truckee Meadows Community College and Western Nevada Community College. Additionally, from 2007 until 2010, Young was a guest lecturer for the State of Nevada Department of Public Safety Cadet Training.