Twentieth Judicial District Chief Judge Mike Keeley took the gavel and rapt it on the bench in the main Barton County Courthouse courtroom Monday morning. “These proceedings are now closed,” he said with a flourish.
Those words had two meanings.
First, it signified the end of the swearing-in ceremony for county officials.
Second, it marked the end of his 28-year career as a judge. On the exact anniversary of his first taking his oath of office, Keeley was retiring.
“It’s been a long time,” Keeley said, wearing his black robe. “It’s going to be a little tough walking away today.”
Keeley said he has worked well with district staff, other judges, law enforcement and legal officials. He commended them on their efforts, dedication and willingness to cooperate.
“I have enjoyed my career,” he said. ‘We have some really great people.”
Just shortly prior to his remarks, he swore in Judge Steve Johnson, who was reelected Nov. 3. Johnson had just been notified by the Kansas Supreme Court that he would replace Keeley in the chief judge post for the district.
Johnson presented Keeley with a certificate from the state, honoring him for his years of service.
In addition, County Commissioner Jennifer Schartz gave him a commemorative clock. She said the commission has appreciated his service.