A standing-room-only crowd watched this afternoon as Ed Tarver was sworn in as the first black U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
Mr. Tarver fought back tears as he talked about leaving his law firm Hull, Towill, Norman, Barrett & Salley, where hes spent the last 17 years.
They have been more than my law partners, they are my family and have helped us a great deal, said Mr. Tarver to a crowd filled with state and local political leaders at the historic federal courthouse downtown.
With space for only 170 people in the federal courtroom, hundreds more stood outside in the hallway and inside a downstairs courtroom to watch the investiture program on TV screens.
In his remarks, retired Georgia Court of Appeals Judge John H. Ruffin Jr., himself the first African-American Superior Court Judge for the Augusta Judicial Circuit, said Mr. Tarvers long career and character made him perfect for the position. He urged Mr. Tarver be sure his cause was always just, his pursuits honorable and his motives pure.
You must have a clear perception of the advantage of justice but you must have an even clearer perception of the disadvantage of vengeance, Judge Ruffin said.
Before reading the oath, U.S. District Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. reminded the audience how powerful a U.S. Attorney can be, and the great responsibility that is inherent in the job.
The U.S. Attorney can break a man either by convicting him or by ruining him financially, he said. So those who serve in that capacity must and always should be principled individuals.
In his statements, James L. Kendrick said Mr. Tarvers appointment by President Barack Obama to the position, along with his long career, are something to treasure.
Ed Tarver, you have earned the right to feel proud, honored, blessed and maybe a little loved, Mr. Kendrick said.
Mr. Tarver replaces Edmund A. Booth Jr., who retired from the position. He will oversee a district covering 43 counties that stretches from Thurmond Lake to the Florida border. The Senate confirmed him Nov. 5 and he was officially sworn in a small ceremony in Savannah last month.