LAWTON — Comanche County’s judicial staff is back up to full strength after two new judges were sworn in Monday.
Visitors packed the jury room on the second floor of the Comanche County Courthouse to watch District Judge Grant Sheperd and Special Judge Christine Galbraith take their oaths of office. District Judge Emmit Tayloe administered Sheperd’s oath, while Judge Susan Zwaan administered Galbraith’s oath.
District Judge Jay Walker, who is also beginning his first term on the bench, was sworn into office in a separate ceremony.
Comanche County has had two judicial vacancies since the fall of 2021, when then-District Judge Irma Newburn stepped down to become a federal immigration judge in Memphis, Tennessee. District Judge Gerald Neuwirth retired in February 2022.
After Newburn and Neuwirth departed, Tayloe and District Judge Scott Meaders kept the courthouse running until the new judges were sworn in, Tayloe said. He added that Cotton County District Judge Michael Cotton pitched in to help, giving up his original docket to hear cases in Comanche County once a week.
“He was over here so often that I started calling him ‘district judge of Comanche County,’” Tayloe said. “We couldn’t have done it without you, Mike.”
Sheperd was in private practice for eight years before joining the court as a special judge in 2019. He was elected to the District 5, Office 5, position on the bench in November 2022.
Sheperd said he was eager to begin his new job.
“Thank you all again for being here, and I look forward to getting started,” he said.
Galbraith was an assistant district attorney for Comanche County until she was elevated to the bench.
Walker was in private practice until he was elected to the District 5, Office 1, position in the fall.