MOUNT GILEAD — It was fitting that when Jenifer Murphy Burnaugh took her oath of office Tuesday afternoon that she be surrounded by family and friends.
“Thank you for your support, some of you for a long time. I’m so blessed to be here,” she said.
Burnaugh made history on Nov. 7 by becoming the first woman to be elected Municipal Court Judge in the county’s history.
Her husband, David, did the presentation of the robe, after their children Joshua and Addison assisted with the Holy Bible as Judge Robert C. Hickson Jr. administered the oath.
Chase and Myles Jordan read Proverbs 3: 5-6, which was Burnaugh’s late mother’s favorite scripture passage.
“Becky Murphy had a tremendous influence on Jenifer,” said friend Jeff Jordan, who welcomed guests to the third floor South Courtroom inside the Morrow County Courthouse.
Burnaugh said she has learned lessons from many in the legal field. “So many of the judges I’ve worked with. I appreciate all their styles.”
Her first job after graduating from law school was working for two common pleas court judges.
In addition to representing criminal defendants in Municipal Court, she has served as an acting judge when needed. Burnaugh also was regularly appointed by the Court of Common Pleas to serve as a guardian ad litem.
“This is a culmination of a lifetime of work for her,” David said. “When we first put up billboards, our children would say, ‘That’s my mom.’ We are proud of her. She always wanted to come back and serve her community.”
Pastor Dennis Schultz gave the invocation, calling upon God to give Burnaugh guidance and wisdom on the bench.
“We sparkle with pride at her becoming a municipal court judge. Faithful, heavenly judge, we ask you to remind Jenifer of her roots and her support. Help Jenifer to be a wise and compassionate public servant, as we already know that she is, as she sits on the bench fulfilling her duties.”
The Morrow County native and graduate of Mount Gilead High School is ready for the challenge.
“I love this community and I’ll do anything for it. I’ll do my best every single day as I’m able,” she said.