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Moore sworn in as district court judge (with video)

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe The Honorable Gordon L. Moore III officially dons his robe for the first time as family members (from left) Jane, Meredith, Davis and Gordon look on during Thursday afternoon's ceremonies at the PJC in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- He walked into the courtroom an attorney, and walked out as the Honorable Judge Gordon Moore, a transformation that took place Thursday afternoon in front of friends and family.

Looking over the packed courtroom, Senior Judge Timothy Connell teased Moore about the large group of people who had gathered.

"This is as popular as he's ever going to be," Connell joked amidst laughter

After the end of an hour-long ceremony, clad in a judge's robe, Moore looked over the crowd.

"District court is now adjourned," he said, ending the investiture procedure.

When he first started law school, becoming a judge wasn't something Moore aspired to do.

"It either happens or it doesn't," he said just hours before the ceremony. "It depends on timing and so many things."

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for Moore as he leaves behind his job as the Nobles County Attorney -- a position he held for nine years and two months, he said.

Moore grew up in Rochester and after earning a B.A. from Carleton College, in 1985 and a J.D. from the University of Iowa in 1988, served as a Special Assistant Attorney in the Transportation and Employment divisions of the Minnesota Attorney General's Office. He became an associate with Von Holtum, Malters & Shepherd, bringing his wife and infant son to Worthington.

Mark Shepherd and Jim Malters presented Moore in the courtroom during the ceremony, speaking of his early days in Worthington. Shepherd recalled meeting Moore's wife and six-week old son when they came to Worthington to look for a house.

"It was a long day for them, and by the end of the day baby Gordy was very unhappy," Shepherd said.

He referred to Moore as a "person of substance," who excelled at research and writing, one who was fully engaged in his community and an excellent father, son, husband and attorney.

Malters said Moore was smart and conscientious, and joked he was also well-behaved. At one point while working at the law office, Malters said, Moore mentioned he wanted to run for school board.

"Why would you want to do that?" Malters asked at the time, adding that people would complain to him about teachers and salaries and everything else. But Moore ran and was elected.

"Several years, later, he said he wanted to run for county attorney. 'Why would you want to do that?' I asked," Malters went on, citing angry people. "But he did a great job."

And then, Malters said, Moore came to him and said he wanted to apply for the open judgeship.

"Why would you want to do that?" Malters asked. "You're going to lose your friends. Then I figured it out. It was for the convenience of parking."

Connell told the crowd his experiences with Moore were all good -- that Moore is devoted to his family and community and that he puts himself on the line.

"With Gordon Moore, integrity is never an issue," he said. "He will be an excellent judge."

He envied the friendship between Moore and newly appointed Judge Terry Vajgrt, saying it would be fun to watch the two judges learn and grow together.

"Today is a good day for Nobles County, the Fifth Judicial District and the State of Minnesota," he added.

With his left hand on a Bible held by his eldest son Gordy and his right hand in the air, surrounded by his wife Jane and other two children Meredith and Davis, Moore swore to dispatch his duties as a district court judge faithfully, to the best of his judgment and ability.

Two of Moore's children helped him on with his robe -- on loan from Judge Jeffrey Flynn.

"My robe is on its way as we speak," Moore had divulged earlier in the day. "It was sent to a judge in Texas by mistake, so they were overnighting it. But with the weather yesterday, they couldn't guarantee delivery today."

Just to be on the safe side, Moore checked one of Flynn's robes.

"I had to make sure the zipper worked," he joked.

After being sworn in, Moore walked around and sat behind the bench, thanking the people who had come to a ceremony so important a step in his life.

In the crowd were attorneys, family, friends and community members, which he said he found humbling and overwhelming. Because several of his family members were unable to be present due to health reasons, Moore said he considered those in the audience a surrogate family. It was also an honor to have other judges present, he said, thanking Chief Justice Lorie Gildea and others for their time.

He thanked recently retired judges Connell, Flynn and David Christensen, and said he hopes to emulate them all. Although Flynn was unable to attend because he's out of the state at the moment, Moore promised he would share the location of Flynn's ashtray when he returned.

Moore also thanked his best friend from high school for attending.

"He is clearly not someone the judicial selection committee spoke to," he joked.

He asked the attorneys to be patient with the "rookie judge" while he got up to speed. During an earlier interview with the Daily Globe, Moore had explained he would attend what is known as "baby judge school" in the fall. It was considered advantageous, he said, to have some time on the bench before attended the week-long class.

Moore's parents were unable able to attend the event, he said, but they had given him, love, support and values over the years.

"I wouldn't be here today without them," he said.

His father, Moore explained, had a long career as a psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and had often mentioned he thought he would have made a good lawyer.

"Funny," Moore said, "Because I've often thought, if I hadn't gone into law, I would have made a good doctor."