As of Friday, Oct. 7, Richland County officially has its 13th Circuit Court Judge, after former District Attorney Andrew Sharp was sworn in by retired Richland County Circuit Court Judge Edward Leineweber.
Acting as master of ceremonies for the event was Assistant District Attorney Amy Forehand, who stated that she worked with Sharp for nine years.
Forehand announced the presence of former Richland County Circuit Court Judge Kent Houck, as well as circuit court judges George Curry of Grant County, James P. Czajkowski of Crawford County, and William D. Dyke of Iowa County.
Judge Dyke addressed the assemblage in the Richland County Court Room. He stated, “What an honor it is to be asked by the community to serve as judge. You must be fair and impartial and ready and able to make tough decisions. You don’t necessarily have to like a decision, but you’ve got to make it. Integrity, honor and confidentiality are required to be a judge.”
Judge Leineweber spoke of the court as “a steady, fixed point in the maelstrom of everyday life.” Leineweber said, “The judicial branch of government is preserved through effort, hard choices and sacrifices. We must protect and preserve the ability of judges to rule on cases and to withstand the winds of changing government.” Leineweber noted that former Judge Houck was on the Richland County bench for 32 years, followed by himself with 16 years.
Sharp said, “One score and two years ago I came to Richland County. Initially, I wanted to be a trial lawyer, with a particular interest in criminal law. I thought I would be here a couple of years and then be lured off by a big-city firm.”
However, he stated that he instead opted to work with Leineweber, at first, starting in 1989, as Assistant District Attorney when Leineweber was District Attorney, and then, starting in 1993, as District Attorney when Leineweber became judge.
With regards to his new appointment as judge, Sharp stated, “I am starting out with a great deal of humility. It’s a great amount of responsibility and there are huge shoes to fill. My decisions will have a profound effect on the lives of other people.
Sharp said, “Twenty-two years ago, Kent Houck was judge. He was patient, fair and knowledgeable and totally without issues. He was merciful, but harsh when it was called for. Then, Ed Leineweber was judge. The adjustment was easy to make. He has extraordinary legal acumen and the ability to see the big picture at sentencing. I will try to emulate them. Houck was patient, but what stands out is that Leineweber is an incredibly, inexhaustibly patient man. I will never be able to match that, but I’ll try.”