August 6, 2010

Gene Gasiorkiewicz becomes Racine County's newest judge

Gene Gasiorkiewicz at his judicial investiture ceremony Friday

In a standing-room-only courtroom Friday afternoon, Gene Gasiorkiewicz took the oath of office to become Racine County's newest judge.

Gasiorkiewicz, 60, won the six-year seat on the bench by defeating Georgia Herrera in the April election. He was sworn in by Judge Allan B. Torhorst, in front of a gallery that included most of Racine's judges -- many of whom, including Torhorst, had endorsed Gasiorkiewicz during the campaign -- as well as representatives from the Kenosha and Walworth County  judiciary, as well as the Court of Appeals.

Also present were Gasiorkiewicz's parents, Dr. Eugene C. and Loretta Gasiorkiewicz, his wife, Jana, and their children Suzanne and Alexei.

Although he's the county's newest judge, Gasiorkiewicz has been assigned not to traffic court but to felony court. As Torhorst explained it, "A judge is elected to be a judge."  Gasiorkiewicz said he's been "boning up on criminal law" since learning what his first courtroom would be. "I'm a research nut," he said, adding that he already had "the proceedings down."

The investiture ceremony included good wishes from many who have known Gasiorkiewicz throughout his career, starting with Sister Michelle Olley, who was principal of St. Catherine's Higg School when he was a student. She quoted Sir Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers, and also Hebrew scripture:
"Love tenderly,
Act justly,
Walk humbly with your God."
 Christy Hall, president of the Racine County Bar Association, wished him "health, happiness and (to laughter) serenity," apparently not something usually found on the Circuit Court bench.

Adrien Schoone, whose law firm Gasiorkiewicz joined after college, in 1974, recounted his background -- the University of Mississippi Law School, editor in chief of the Law Review, a clerkship, presidency of the Racine County Bar in 2007, a member of the Board of Governors of the state Bar and more -- and said his own biggest mistake in 51 years of practicing law was not making Gasiorkiewicz a partner. Instead, after five years, Gasiorkiewicz formed his own law firm with Martin Hanson.

Schoone  quoted from Oliver Wendell Holmes, noting that a man must "share the passion and action of his time, at the peril of being not to have lived."

Gasiorkiewicz offered a broad smile throughout the proceedings, and noted that in 35 years as a lawyer, "I can't imagine a more glorious day for my friends and family and me." He wished Judge Stephen Simanek -- whose seat he is taking -- "good hunting and fishing in his retirement," and pledged that he would serve his constituents with "dignity and respect."

His term runs until August 2016. And for those of you still not sure how to pronounce our new judge's last name, here's the word from his campaign website: GASH-ER-KEV-ITCH.

The Judge's parents, Dr. Eugene and Loretta Gasiorkiewicz, gave him his robe

...and his son, Alexei, also an attorney, presented him with a gavel

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