Former assistant D.A. James McCabria sworn in as Douglas County District Court judge

James McCabria

Former senior assistant Douglas County district attorney James McCabria was sworn in to his new position as Douglas County District Court judge Monday, filling the vacancy created by Judge Michael Malone’s August retirement.

McCabria, 45, had served as an assistant D.A. since 2006. He served as an assistant Kansas attorney general from 2001 to 2006 and worked in private practice beginning in 1994 in Coffeyville and Eudora after he earned a law degree from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. His bachelor’s degree is in criminal science from Ohio State University.

McCabria took the oath of office in front of an overflowing courtroom Monday afternoon. He requested that Malone preside over the ceremony because he had served as a mentor to McCabria.

“It seemed fitting not only because (he was) the Division Four judge, but I spent a lot of time practicing in front of him,” McCabria said.

McCabria told the crowd Monday that he was honored by “the support and encouragement” of the community and that he will take what he learned as a lawyer into his new career.

“You have taught and inspired me to be a better lawyer,” McCabria said. “What is most important about the law is that it affects people, their livelihood and liberty. I take those experiences with me.”

Gov. Sam Brownback selected McCabria in October from a list of three candidates a nominating panel provided to him in September. Chelsi Kay Hayden, professor of lawyering skills at Kansas University’s School of Law, and Bethany Roberts, managing attorney with Topeka Kansas Legal Services, were also finalists for the job.

Douglas County District Court Chief Judge Robert Fairchild said he thinks McCabria will uphold the standard of Douglas County judges because of McCabria’s professional, unbiased nature.

“He is nonjudgmental, which, believe it or not, is a quality judges should have,” Fairchild said. “He will treat all with respect.”