Jhilmil ``Jill'' Ghaleb was sworn in as Otsego County's newest judge Tuesday morning at the county courthouse in Cooperstown.

More than 100 people attended the ceremony, where county Judge Brian Burns administered the oath of office.

Ghaleb, 43, succeeds Justice Michael Coccoma as county judge and is empowered to preside over cases in county, surrogate and family court.

Coccoma won election to the state Supreme Court bench last November and took office in January. This spring, Ghaleb was appointed by Gov. David Paterson to serve as judge until the end of 2008, an interim appointment that was confirmed two weeks ago by the state Senate.

Ghaleb, an independent voter, is running this year for a 10-year term as county judge. Last week, she was endorsed by the county's Democratic committee.

Also running is Republican John Lambert, the county's chief assistant district attorney. Lambert, who is endorsed by the county's Republican Committee, formally announced his candidacy the same day the state Senate confirmed Ghaleb's appointment.

Early Tuesday afternoon, Ghaleb said she presided over two family court cases her first morning at the new job.

``I'm familiar with the setting, of course, from all my years as a lawyer, but it was new, too,'' she said.

Ghaleb said she addressed the audience at her swearing-in ceremony, assuring people she would work diligently to be fair.

``I know it's not changing the world at large, but I think we can change the world a little bit with everything we do,'' she said.

Once, about 10 years ago, she was appointed a law guardian for a young boy, she said.

``He was in foster care and at our first meeting, he said that all he wanted to do was live with his grandmother,'' she said.

Ghaleb said she came to see this as the best outcome for her young client and worked to make it happen.

``Now that didn't change the world, but it did change that boy's world,'' she said. ``And that's something that has stayed with me ever since.''

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