Newly appointed Chancellor John Rambo takes his oath of office from Judge Thomas Seeley Saturday on the steps of the Washington County Courthouse in Jonesborough. (Nathan Baker / Johnson City Press)
Newly appointed Judge John Rambo said his humble goal is to uphold justice for the people who stand before him in the Chancery Courtroom.
“The privilege of being an attorney is to serve the people you represent,” Rambo, who has practiced law for 19 years, said Saturday after his swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the century-old Jonesborough Courthouse. “The honor of being a judge is to ensure justice for all the people involved in the cases you’re deciding.”
Gov. Bill Haslam appointed Rambo Tuesday to replace Chancellor G. Richard Johnson, whose resignation went into effect on June 30.
As a First Judicial District chancellor, Rambo will oversee civil cases in chancery courts in Washington, Carter, Johnson and Unicoi counties.
He took his oath of office Saturday in front of a crowd of dozens of well-wishers, administered by Judge Thomas Seeley.
“He’s a great person, and I know he’s going to do a great job as chancellor,” Seeley said of the new judge.
Rambo invoked the words of the philosopher Aristotle and President Abraham Lincoln, himself an attorney, in a short speech after his oath.
“You asked for fairness and fairness only, and to the best of my abilities you shall have it,” he said from the steps of the courthouse, which is celebrating its centennial this weekend.
Rambo starts court Monday, and said he hopes to quickly tackle the backlog of cases that have accumulated in the month since Johnson’s retirement.
“That’s the first priority, to get the docket moving,” he said. “It’s basically just going to be business as usual while we get things back to normal.”
His style behind the bench will be an amalgamation of the different judges he’s appeared in front of in his 19-year professional career, Rambo said.
“Each judge operates court in a different style with a different approach,” he said. “In my practice, I’ve witnessed over 50 judges throughout the state, and I hope to do my best to mimic the best attributes I’ve seen from them.”
Rambo, 43, has been Washington County’s attorney since 1999 and a municipal judge in Jonesborough since 2003.
He also represented the Hampton Utility District in Carter County from 1996 to 2012 and has served private clients since 1996.
Rambo lives in Jonesborough with his wife, Siena.
Johnson, his predecessor, announced his retirement in May, following 25 years behind the bench.