By Meladi Brewer
GREENVILLE — Travis Fliehman was sworn into office last week, as Judge Jonathan P. Hein will be stepping down at the end of the year.
Judge Hein began the ceremony by thanking his staff, the public, the courthouse staff, and other elected officials for making the last 24 years of his career a memorable one.
Through a choked-up voice, Judge Hein said “it’s been a pleasure. This is the hardest part about letting go, but it is necessary. It is a good time to do so.” To Fliehman, Judge Hein advised him as he moves forward in his career he hopes he can have the same sense of accomplishment and pride in his job. Judge Hein told the new judge to rely on his coworkers, as he has left a good staff behind that will have his back.
“The court staff, Mr. Fliehman, is exemplary. They know what they are doing, but eventually, if you’re fortunate, they will go from employees to friends, councilors, and guides to get you through a job that is virtually impossible,” Judge Hein said.
He told Fliehman to rely on the staff and his best judgment because Judge Hein believes it will go very well for him, and he “looks forward to following Fliehman’s success.” Judge Hein’s time with the judge elect has brought him faith this position will be left in good hands.
“The hesitation to leave this seat dissolved last week, as I had the chance to teach new judges and Mr. Fliehman was sitting there with the best of them,” Judge Hein said.
Judge Hein said it was a little unnerving to have Fliehman sitting in the front row – at least unfamiliar. He advised it did not take long to learn it is not about “black and white law” but understanding how the process works.
“I think that bodes well for this court that you, Mr. Fliehman, can go to a 10,000 foot view and see the big picture when you’re also trying to do the day-to day details,” Judge Hein said. “You do it in a way that will represent the public well in the difficulty of this office.”
Judge Hein advised Fliehman’s intellect and intuition will be assets for him and make it easier to let go. His piece of advice for maintaining dignity without letting power go to his head is to find a passage of literature, a common anecdote, or in Judge Hein’s case, a biblical verse to keep him grounded.
“In 1999, I took Micah 6:8 as a verse to claim for this office,” Judge Hein said.
‘The Lord has shown you, a man, what is right, and what does the Lord require of you: to act, justly; to love, mercy; and to walk, humbly with your guide.’
“For me that works. That verse keeps me grounded except for those rare moments when I wasn’t. We all have to fight it and need a common ground to pull us back into reality,” Judge Hein said.
He addressed Fliehman’s wife, Kelly, stating she is just as important as the judge because she takes on the responsibility of being a judge’s wife. Judge Hein advised his wife, Rose, was a strong supporter of him and helped keep him grounded by “hitting him over the head” with the verse when he started to stray away. He advised Kelly she will be important to his success by being supportive as the job will be both equally taxing and rewarding.
The ceremony was both legal and ceremonial. Fliehman was to recite the Legal Oath of Office and participated in the ceremonial robing. The ceremonial robing was to demonstrate a transfer of responsibility from one judge to the other.
Fliehman was sworn in surrounded by his family: wife Kelly, daughter Lexi, and son-in-law Mitchell Subler. He thanked his wife, daughter, and son-in-law saying they have been a huge part of getting him to the position he is in today. His wife went as far as placing post-it notes around their house to help reaffirm him of her belief in his abilities. In correlation his confidence in himself had increased.
“You (Kelly) have always been my soul and light, so thank you,” Fliehman said.
Fliehman addressed Judge Hein and his wife Rose saying “for the last couple of months, you have been more than mentors. You have had faith and belief in me.”
“I can’t imagine anyone not having the time to transition. He (Judge Hein) has helped me not drink so much Pepto-Bismol,” Fliehman joked.
He advised those in attendance he is blessed to be a part of a group that runs without him being present, but he also understands their need for him to be present. He is excited to see where this new journey in his career will take him within the years to come. He is grateful for the support he already has and credits the staff for being well acquainted.
“I am humbled and honored,” Fliehman said.
To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected]