Service dog, ‘Deacon,’ also welcomed
Newly-appointed Dickinson County Magistrate Judge Neal Gugler took the oath of office Friday during a ceremony, which was serious and humorous.
The swearing in and robing ceremony was in the newly-renovated Courtroom 1 of the Dickinson County District Courthouse.
The courtroom was filled with Gugler’s family, friends, fellow 8th judicial district judges, court personnel, Dickinson County Commissioners, area attorneys, law enforcement officers and others.
Eighth Judicial District Chief Judge Benjamin Sexton administered the oath of office to Gugler, while Gugler’s wife Lisa and service dog Deacon stood by his side.
Before administering the oath, Sexton said he had the opportunity to speak to Gugler and found that Neal had a calm demeanor, was a good listener, was very measured and took his time before responding.
“All great talents to have on the bench,” Sexton said.
However, Sexton said he had “one problem” with Gugler.
“I’ve been by myself for five or six months,” he said jokingly. “It’s been kind of an only child thing. I’m the favorite one. It was a pretty smooth move bringing a dog in here.”
Sexton has been serving as the lone judge in Dickinson County since October when Keith Collett, the former magistrate judge, was appointed as an 8th Judicial District judge.
Speaking seriously, Sexton said he was amazed by the various jobs Gugler has held over the years and his ability to do those jobs.
“You now can use that ability to serve the State of Kansas in the 8th Judicial District in this capacity. I’m sure you will find it rewarding,” Sexton said, adding that the staff – from top to bottom – are some of the “greatest people” he has ever known.
“The best advice I can give you is to be a good listener. Because they will steer you the right way,” he added.
Following the swearing in, Lisa Gugler conducted the robing ceremony, helping her husband don his judge’s robe.
Referring to the ceremony date of April 15 — the traditional day for filing taxes, Gugler said it was the “most exciting tax day” he had ever had and the only tax day he had ever “looked forward to.”
He thanked the 8th Judicial Nominating Committee, his wife, mother and family members for their support and said it was good to see “all the friendly faces out there.”
“Thank you for showing up and to the judges for the words of wisdom I’ve heard the last couple weeks,” Gugler said.
Besides Sexton, fellow 8th Judicial District Judges in attendance were Courtney D. Boehm, Keith Collett, Susan C. Robson, Amy C. Coppola, Margaret White and retired Chief Judge Michael Powers. Judge Ryan W. Rosauer attended via Zoom.
District Court Administrator Nikki Davenport welcomed those attending in person and on Zoom and joked that staff are excited to welcome Neal, but are “more excited to have Deacon,” and said the service dog had been provided with his own bed, bowl with his name on it and mat.
Following the ceremony, Judge Gugler adjourned court and attendees moved to the jury room for a reception in his honor.