FORT WAYNE – The spacious green courtroom was packed with well-wishers and colleagues Thursday when newly appointed Judge Craig Bobay donned his black robes for the first official time.
In late June, Gov. Mike Pence appointed Bobay, 56, to fill the vacant civil division seat on the Allen Superior Court bench. On June 27, Bobay took the oath of office in a private ceremony before the local judiciary and family.
This year, Allen Superior Court Judge Dan Heath left the civil division to work in the family relations division at the Allen County Juvenile Justice Center, taking the place of Allen Superior Court Judge Steve Sims.
Bobay served as a magistrate since the late 1990s, most recently in Allen Circuit Court under Judge Tom Felts.
During Thursday’s ceremonial swearing-in and robing ceremony, Felts spoke admiringly of his longtime friend and fellow runner.
Felts specifically spoke of Bobay’s work with the Restoration Court, which helps people with mental health problems and addiction, through the Kelley House, a residential facility on the city’s west side.
Three graduates of the Kelley House program attended the ceremony, invited by Bobay and recognized by Sheila Hudson, executive director of Allen County Community Corrections. Hudson gave Bobay a crate of fresh vegetables harvested from the Kelley House garden, which he helped plant.
Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David led the Pledge of Allegiance at the ceremony, and Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese gave the opening prayer.
U.S. District Senior Judge William Lee, for whom Bobay clerked after law school, spoke, as did C. Neil Hayes, a local attorney.
Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull was master of ceremonies, and the Rev. Bill McGill gave the closing prayer.
After taking the oath again, this time from Indiana Supreme Court Justice Loretta Rush, Bobay donned his robes. One sleeve was held by his wife, Nancy, and the other was held by Allen Superior Court Judge Nancy Boyer.
Bobay thanked those in attendance for their support – singling out his family and Felts for their encouragement.
He promised that during his tenure on the bench, he would hold fast to the judicial requirements of dignity, courtesy and patience.
Outlining his six-point judicial philosophy, Bobay said those who come before him would feel that they received a just outcome, and he would always rely on the rule of law.
What we do here, he said, is essential to our country and our way of life. The rule of law provides for and protects our prosperity.