Newly elected Ripley justice takes oath of office

Photo by David Prenatt Larry Freligh was sworn in as the new Ripley Town Justice on Jan. 1. His mother, Minnie, held a Bible for him as he took his oath.

RIPLEY — The new year brought a new judge for the Town of Ripley.

Lawrence Michael Freligh was sworn in as the new Ripley Town Justice at 2 pm on Jan. 1. The ceremony took place in the Town Hall Court Room, and Freligh was sworn in by Town Clerk Rebecca Rowe Carvallo.

The court room was filled with family and friends as Freligh took his oath of office: “I, Lawrence Michael Freligh, do solemnly swear that I will support the constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of New York . . . according to the best of my ability.”

After signing the oath, Freligh smiled at those present and asked, “Do I look frightened?” The courtroom broke into laughter.

Freligh was elected to the position in November, filling the position left vacant by the late Honorable Laverne Gibson.

Freligh invited his mother, Minnie, to hold the Bible for him as he was sworn in. He noted that the Bible belonged to his wife, so “it’s like she is a part of this, too.”

After the ceremony, Freligh said he would do his best to remain as impartial as possible. “We are not the ones to make the laws, but to enforce the laws in a just and correct manner,” he said.

Freligh said the amount of training that he’s received since being elected has been overwhelming, but he has had great assistance from fellow Justice Vera Hustead. “She is going to be absolutely wonderful to work with,” Freligh said. “She’s been great, very supportive and helpful, and that is a relief for me.”

Freligh also noted that he received a lot of help from Ripley Court Clerk Jodie D’Anthony. “Jodie has been exceptional,” he said.

Freligh kept the mood jovial before and after the ceremony, relating humorous stories about his training. In particular, he cited the head of the Republican party, Dale Davis, as the one “who got me into this.”

“I called Dale on the phone and he said ‘I thought you’d be interested in running for judge.’ When I got to Albany and saw how thick the book was, I said to myself, ‘I’m going after Dale.'”

Freligh is not the first of his family to serve in this position. His brother-in-law, Charles Carr, served as Ripley Town Justice prior to Gibson

When he announced his candidacy for the position, Freligh said he would strive to be “fair and honest and look at each case with an open mind.” He noted that he believes that “courtesy and respect are important as well as showing compassion and humility.”

Freligh has extensive experience in law enforcement and judicial protocol during his career with the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Department in Arkansas, working with youthful offenders as a Juvenile Officer and also as a Juvenile Probation Officer.

He attended Ripley Central School and went on to have an extensive military career serving for over two decades in assignments such as Generals Aide for General of the Army, Omar N. Bradley as well as a Presidential guard during the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter.

Freligh serves on the Ripley Free Library Board of Directors and served on the Ripley Central School Board of Education until his election. He also serves on the board of the Ripley First Presbyterian Church where he is a member, and as the Service Officer and Chaplain of the Ripley VFW Post No. 2769.

When the ceremony was concluded, someone among those attending said, “That’s it Larry.”

Freligh responded: “Actually, it’s just beginning.”