For the past 103 years, Middletown has been served by seven municipal court judges.
But after the death in February of Judge Mark Wall, the appointment of Judge Melynda Cook Howard in May, then the election of James Sherron in November, there have been three judges this year.
On Monday night, Sherron officially became the ninth municipal court judge since 1914, according to court records.
Sherron began hearing cases Tuesday morning.
Several of those who attended Sherron’s oath of office ceremony at Miami University Middletown compared the new judge to the late Wall.
Both are Middletown natives who graduated from Fenwick (Wall) and Middletown high schools (Sherron), and Sherron can show compassion and firmness at the same time, much like Wall did, according to Daniel Phillips, president of the Butler County Bar Association.
Tom Brickey, a longtime friend of Sherron’s, said the new Middletown Municipal Court judge is an experienced litigator, with nearly 30 of courtroom experience. He served as a prosecutor in Butler County for 15 years and for the cities of Hamilton and Trenton.
Brickey said Sherron’s history and his Middletown background — he has served as acting judge and magistrate in Middletown and Trenton during the past 10 years — give him a personal stake in the decisions he will make on the bench.
“He’s one of us,” Brickey said.
State Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, and her husband, Kent, both adamant Sherron supporters, attended the ceremony and sat in the front row. Keller said she backed Sherron early in his campaign because she has “100 percent” faith in his ability.
“He has a similar demeanor to Judge Wall,” Keller said. “Just the right amount of toughness, the right amount of compassion.”
Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan said he has been impressed by Sherron’s commitment to the Middletown community.
“He’s well positioned for it,” Mulligan said. “He will do well.”
Rodney Muterspaw, Middletown’s police chief, said Sherron “knows everybody in this city,” including the entire police department
“(He) has the pulse of the city,” Muterspaw said.
Sherron called the ceremony, attended by numerous Butler County judges, “a very special occasion.”
It was his goal for the past 11 years to serve as Middletown’s judge, Sherron said, adding that the job is “not a stepping stone,” but “a capstone” and he hopes to retire as Middletown judge.
Sherron’s wife, Melanie, and their three grown children — Nick, Luke and Alli Sherron Huff — all attended Monday evening’s ceremony. His wife held the Bible as Sherron took the oath before Judge Noah Powers II.
“You are my rock,” he said looking toward his family. “This wouldn’t have happened without you.”