With his family, friends and a room full of attorneys and co-workers at his side, Gerald W. Eddins put his hand on the Bible and swore an oath to serve the people of Jefferson County as judge of County Court at Law No. 1. on Thursday, Nov. 29.
Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick and 58th District Court Judge Bob Wortham spoke kindly of Eddins before his swearing in.
Both grew up with Eddins, they said, and spoke of his upbringing in Pear Ridge and how it will help the people of Jefferson County.
“Gerald’s dad taught him from the beginning the importance of public service,” Wortham said, noting Eddins worked as a volunteer firefighter for no pay at a young age.
“He even started driving the fire truck at 18. Can you imagine that?” Wortham said. “When I was 18, I don’t think anybody would’ve given me a fire truck.”
Judge Jeff Branick said that, although he was six years younger than Eddins, he looked up to that 18-year-old firefighter.
“Gerald and I were both born and raised in the bustling metropolis of Pear Ridge,” Branick said.
Later in life, Branick joined Eddins at the Provost Umphrey Law Firm where Eddins was a partner and mentor to Branick, who was still working on his law degree.
“I could always count on being able to go to Gerald whenever I had questions about difficult legal concepts,” Branick said. “He was very patient in a very encouraging way, assisting me in performing my duties in legal research.”
After taking the oath of office, Eddins became momentarily emotional, saying he was humbled by those who precipitated his rise to judge.
“It is truly humbling and I’m truly honored by the universal support and acceptance I’ve received in this particular race,” he said. “I received total support from the community. I received total support from the bar. I’ve very humbled by that.”
Eddins said his time as judge of the County Court at Law No. 1 will be one of impartiality.
“I have been given a special trust, a chance to do right,” he said. “And I’ll live up to that.”
Eddins is taking the seat vacated by Al Gerson, who retired after 27 years on the bench in October 2011. Tom Rugg of the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office occupied the seat in the interim.