It was standing room only in courtroom 327 as friends, family and colleagues gathered to watch Wood River attorney Dean Sweet get sworn in as Madison County's newest associate judge.

Sweet made light of the packed house in his remarks following the oath of office.

"If I'd known I had this many friends, I would have run for circuit judge," he joked.

Sweet replaces retired Associate Judge Ralph Mendelsohn. Mendelsohn retired last month to pursue private arbitration work.

Sweet beat out 13 other applicants for the post.

Sweet thanked his wife of 40 years, Judy, family and many friends during his opening remarks.

He spoke of his passion in working in local government law.

During his more than 20 years as an attorney, Sweet has served as city attorney for a number of local governments.

He also served in the civil division of the Madison County State's Attorney's Office.

"I was sort of a frustrated political scientist," he said.

He joked that his nickname around the courthouse is "the Terminator," from his work in labor disputes but cited his close work with labor leaders and their impact on him.

Sweet thanked his former law partners as well as retired Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron for their parts in his career.

According to his speech, Bryon gave Sweet his first law job.

Byron was in attendance at the swearing in as were State's Attorney Bill Mudge, Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan and other officials.

The Democrat acknowledged the "honor" of practicing law and extended special thanks to his new colleagues amongst the county's judges.

"I understand I am the least experienced of you," he told them. "I'm honored." He spoke of the help the sitting judges had already offered him and their efforts to reach out to him.

In addition to his legal work, Sweet is a Vietnam veteran. Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis noted Sweet's community service throughout Madison County in her opening remarks.

A coffee reception followed the 2 p.m. swearing in.

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