By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
On Tuesday, August 1, George C. Day, Jr. was sworn in as Etowah County’s newest circuit court judge. Day was appointed by Governor Kay Ivey to fill Judge Allen Millican’s position for the remaining term. Millican’s retirement went into effect only “about 11 hours” before the event.
Judge David Kimberley welcomed everyone in the crowded courtroom to the event and recognized the many elected officials in attendance. Day recognized his family members and staff members that were in attendance.
“I would like to welcome Judge Day to his judicial family,” said Kimberley. “I know Judge Millican has said this many times and it’s quite true, this is a great work environment for a judge and his staff. We have a legacy of innovations and efforts that we make to make Etowah County a better place to work and live and a safer place.”
Kimberley noted some programs that the courts offer including drug, mental health, veterans, pre-trial intervention and community corrections work release programs that give the courts an opportunity “to have a more just result.” Kimberley charged Day with the duty of continuing the legacy of these programs.
Kimberley also talked about justice, mentioning that the word is used in the Bible about 28 times and the concept of fairness at least 101 times.
“Judge Day by making that your priority, a love for justice abiding in your heart, everything else will fall into place,” said Kimberley.
After Kimberley spoke, Reverend Harvey Beck of First United Methodist Church of Gadsden gave the invocation, followed by Jonathon Welch leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Senator Phil Williams presented retiring Judge Millican with a resolution from the state legislature to honor Millican for his lifetime of service, including his time in the military, as a member of the bar, as a business owner, as a family man, as well as his time on the bench
Williams also spoke about Day’s appointment to replace Millican.
“This was an easy fit,” said Williams. “There was no square peg in a round hole when it came to whether or not George Day, in my opinion, should be given an opportunity to serve on the bench.”
Etowah County Circuit Clerk Cassandra Sam Johnson addressed the crowd next, welcoming Day to the judicial family and telling Millican that he will be missed.
“As Judge Millican retires from the bench, we are grateful that his successor has the qualities that George possesses,” said Johnson. “George is a Christian man, a family man with morals and ethics that are unquestioned.”
Johnson said that her staff is excited to work with Day and look forward to assisting him to make his term as circuit judge a success.
Etowah County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy of Detention spoke next about Day’s honor and integrity and told him that the Sheriff’s Office would support him as a judge.
District Attorney Jody Willoughby also welcomed Day. Willoughby defined honor and said that Day meets every aspect of the definition.
“I’m excited that you will bring all of your honorable qualities that I’ve listed so far, and many, many more that I didn’t have time to talk about today to this bench,” said Willoughby. “What an honor that is. And I can say without hesitancy that you have been one of the most honorable men that I have ever been around and it’s great to finally recognize you as the Honorable George Coleman Day, Jr.”
Day’s fellow judges, including Etowah County Probate Judge Bobby Junkins, District Court Judge Will Clay, District Court Judge Joe Nabors and fellow Circuit Court Judge William Rhea, spoke in turn about Day, expounding on his many wonderful qualities and their excitement to have him as a judge alongside them.
Retiring Judge Millican spoke next. He had the crowd recall the last line of the Pledge of Allegiance “and justice for all” and told the crowd that the courtroom is where that happens.
“That’s the responsibility we have, to administer that justice,” said Millican.
Millican said that when he first started considering retirement, he was worried about what would happen if he left and who would replace him. Millican spoke to Day about it, knowing he had interest in the position.
“I looked at all the possible candidates that may want to take my place, and I picked the best one that I could think of that could do the job with integrity and honesty and as hardworking as they come,” said Millican. “I know the governor made the choice, but he’s my choice too. And for that I am so thankful.”
Circuit Judge Billy Ogletree swore Day into office while his wife Beth held the Bible. Day’s daughters Brooke and Claire stood with him as he repeated his oath.
“I, George C. Day, Jr., do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Alabama so long as I continue a citizen thereof, and that I will faithfully and honestly discharge the duties of the office of circuit judge upon which I am about to enter to the best of my abilities, so help me God,” Day repeated.
Day addressed the crowd after he was sworn in, thanking everyone for their kind remarks and praising the other judges on the bench. Day thanked his family for their support of his career, and Millican for his help while Day prepared to take over his position.
Day said that, while he is affiliated with the Republican Party, “justice has no political party,” and that political affiliations will not matter in his courtroom. He will aim to follow the law.
“I just took an oath to abide by and support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of Alabama, and I take that oath very seriously,” said Day. “I feel firmly that the judge’s job is not to make law, it’s to interpret and to apply law. I realize that means that I will have to abide by laws with which I do not agree. I don’t relish that prospect, but I know those times will come.”
Day said that during times when he has the discretion, he will aim to be fair, and that if a time comes when he is unsure of the just path, he will seek God’s wisdom through prayer.
The ceremony was followed by a reception with food provided by the Republican Women with food from Little Bridge Marina and Cothran’s Bakery.