By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – Joely O’Rourke was surrounded with supporters who witnessed the formalities of her transition from attorney to Lewis County Superior Court judge.
The gathering yesterday on the fourth floor of the Lewis County Law and Justice Center was presided over by Judge James Lawler, while newly retired Judge Richard Brosey administered the oath of office.
Retired Lewis County District Court Judge Michael Roewe offered his endorsement of the lawyer he first came to know as a deputy prosecutor in his courtroom in 2009.
Roewe spoke of mentoring O’Rourke, among as many as 60 young new lawyers he came across during his 24 years on the bench.
“Joely immediately stood out in that context,” Roewe said. “She constantly sought feedback to improve her performance.”
The qualities she demonstrated caused him to encourage her to consider running to replace him, but she declined, he said.
O’Rourke won her place in history as the first female superior court judge in the county, in a contested race in November with more than 70 percent of the vote. The term is four years.
The Chehalis resident is married to Centralia-based attorney Shane O’Rourke, who helped her don the black robe after she was sworn in.
Monday’s proceedings were attended by all the Lewis County judicial officials, including Lewis County Superior Court Judge Andrew Toynbee who was sworn in last week.
When Judge O’Rourke faced the audience, she thanked her parents, her husband, her son, colleagues and others who helped in her journey to the bench.
“I sit before you today, humbled and honored by your faith in me,” she said.
O’Rourke singled out her 11-year-old son Brock who was a trooper, she said, spending his summer walking in parades and knocking on doors as she campaigned.
She thanked Roewe and the other judges who have guided her.
“The three judges and Commissioner Mitchell, each of you encouraged me,” she said. “I also want to thank you for setting the bar so high, I will spend every day the rest of my career feeling challenged.”
For background, read “Judge-elect O’Rourke secures her place in Lewis County history” from Tuesday November 29, 2016, here