Virtual reality: Judge in investiture spotlight via Zoom during COVID crisis


By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

In the age of Zoom, a judicial investiture is a many splendored – and at times splintered – thing.

Such was evident May 21when Judge Jessica J. Hammon was welcomed as the newest member of the 67th District Court bench in Genesee County. The ceremony was reportedly the first judicial investiture in the state to be held in the virtual realm, according to Judge Hammon.

“As I was sworn in during the COVID crisis, I was unable to have a typical live investiture,” Hammon said. “Therefore we decided to do a virtual video investiture. We had a lot of participation from local judges and elected officials, and received massive positive feedback. I believe this was the first investiture of its kind, at least it is the only one I’ve seen.”

A number of local VIPs – including Genesee County Prosecutor David Layton, Genesee County Sheriff Christopher Swanson, and Chief Judge Duncan Beagle of the 7th Circuit Court – sung Hammon’s praises during the 20-minute ceremony. Chief Judge Christopher Odette of the 67th District Court also chimed in, saluting Hammon for her “integrity, ability, experience, and compassion,” noting that she has “boundless energy,” particularly when it comes to pro bono causes.

In early April, Hammon was appointed to the judgeship by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to replace Judge Mark Latchana, who earlier accepted an appointment to the 7th Circuit Court in Genesee County.

Hammon’s partial term ends January 1, 2021. She plans to run in this November’s election for the remainder of Latchana’s term, which expires January 1, 2023.

Before her appointment to the bench, Hammon was a private practice attorney in Flint where she specialized in family, child welfare, and juvenile criminal law. She also served as a managing partner with Attorneys for Indigent Defense, PLLC, a firm that provides defense for indigent mothers involved in the child welfare system. She is the immediate past president of the Genesee County Bar Association and a member of its Board of Directors. During law school, Hammon served internships with the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office as well as with Michigan Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kelly.

Upon her appointment to the bench, Hammon expressed her gratitude to Governor Whitmer.

“I am grateful to the Governor for this opportunity,” Hammon said. “I have strived throughout my career to represent my clients and my community with the utmost respect for people and the law. This is a difficult time in our society. I am proud to be called to serve in this capacity.”

A graduate of the University of Michigan-Flint, Hammon earned her juris doctor degree from Ave Maria School of Law in Florida. A resident of Burton with her husband Elliot, Hammon also volunteers her time as a mediator for the Community Resource Center and as a trauma-informed yoga instructor with the nonprofit organization, Youth Arts: Unlocked.

The daughter of Linda and Ted Hammon, the Genesee County jurist paid her dues by building a law practice from the “ground up” over the past 12 years. That sense of commitment caught the eye of Circuit Judge Michael Theile, who added plenty of spice to the investiture during his video clip.

“Don’t forget your humility,” Judge Theile told Hammon in his word to the wise. “And always duck.”


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