David Barra was sworn in by Governor Phil Scott at the Washington County today, February 21, 2018, on an uncharacteristically warm day. The thoughtful ceremony was emceed by Montpelier attorney Paul Gillies. Attorney Gillies opened with some statistics regarding judges sworn in in Vermont over time with a tongue-in-cheek statistic on Judge Barra’s likelihood of becoming a Vt Supreme Court Justice. He reminded the audience that a judgeship is truly an act of self-sacrifice and noted that David Barra is particularly qualified as he trades in his soccer referee whistle for a gavel. After all, referees are not loved by either team, nor the spectators, but good referees are indeed respected. Paul Gillies then stepped aside to allow Governor Scott to give the oath that converts David Barra’s private persona into a public persona of Judge Barra.
Governor Phil Scott next spoke before administering the oath, noting, too that Barra’s experience as a referee is particularly impressive to him, knowing that he has had to deal with a fair share of angry parents. As always, Governor Scott highlighted his 4 C’s in selecting judges: character, competence, commitment and chemistry, noting that chemistry is the hardest to find, but perhaps the most important. He noted that Judge Barra is more than qualified, showing the proper attitude and the ability to put others first, putting needs ahead of egos. He then congratulated David Barra on the successes he has earned and administered the oath of office.
Long-time friend and Vermont Soccer State Referee Administrator, Steve Lunna, then spoke. He noted that the two met over 20 years ago as they joined, aspiring together to be the highest quality referees they could be. Steve and David refereed over 200 matches a year together, and Steve noted that David Barra had the deepest desire to make correct calls, always studying and noting any obscure rule references to complete his knowledge. He recalled a story about how David Barra encouraged him to referee for two unknown schools in the midst of their D-1 college refereeing, which ended up being one of the most rewarding referee experiences they’ve ever had. Steve noted that now he has one friend that is a judge, and implored David’s wife, Barbara, to keep him humble.
Another friend and colleague, VBA President Dan Maguire, next spoke of Judge Barra’s qualifications. Dan noted that he was extremely nervous to speak because he was so proud of his dear friend. After remarking that Judge Barra is eminently qualified for the job, especially due to his inherent credibility, he discussed the onerous process in applying for a judgeship. President Maguire noted how isolating and stressful a judgeship would be, recalling how he had tried to convince David not to give up his freedom and success for the judgeship. But Judge Barra was undeterred and determined, another quality that was ultimately rewarded with the honor of being selected for the post.
Finally, Judge Barra’s law partner, Stephen Unsworth congratulated his now former partner for this honor. He described David Barra as a lawyer’s lawyer who acted like a partner from the get go. He described his partner as someone who had great successes in law and life, playing college soccer and building a rewarding practice, but who also suffered great loss in experiencing the death of a child. These life experiences have given Judge Barra humility, resilience and compassion and had built a man who knew how to be kind and courteous to all.
Judge Barra then greeted the crowd, humorously noting that this David guy sounded like “some nice guy!” He also joked that this would be the first time he appeared in court without an argument to make. He thanked all that spoke, and all present, and particularly noted that he and his law partner, Stephen Unsworth, continued to run a successful practice because the two of them were always fully honest with each other and knew they could count on each other to be honest. With great struggle, Judge Barra spoke eloquently of his deceased daughter who remains with him despite 16 years since her passing. He also honored and thanked with pride and deep emotion his son, with his wife and two kids who were present, and his beautiful bride, Barbara.
Before the ceremony ended, Judge Barra stated that he sought the judgeship to enable him to utilize his skills to serve Vermont and do the most good. He promised to continually seek how best to do this job, as it would always be a learning process to seek truth, do justice, have mercy, make a difference, have courage and persist through adversity. His pledge was to strive every day to justify the trust that has been placed in him.
Please enjoy pictures from the event, below.