New Area Federal Judge

A local attorney moved from one side of the bar to the other this week.

Despite the somber attire, the investiture for new US District Judge Richard Smoak wasn't an entirely somber event.

Peers and mentors both teased and complimented Judge Smoak throughout the swearing in ceremony.

Smoak was nominated for a seat the Federal Court for the Northern District of Florida by President Bush and was confirmed by the US Senate.

He's the district's first Federal Judge from Bay County in 23 years.

Judge Smoak thanked his family for supporting his career, then pledged to uphold the moral convictions he relied on while he was a practicing attorney. "I am mindful of the challenge and responsibility of serving as the first resident district judge in our community. I will work hard to earn and to keep your respect and make you proud. Thank you."

Judge Smoak graduated from West Point Military Academy in 1965. He received a Silver Star and Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.

Smoak carried on a 30-year law practice before accepting his seat on the federal bench.