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Judge sworn in with hand on dictionary

Jan. 3, 2010 at 11:30 PM

KINGSTON, N.Y., Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A judge in New York state took the oath of office with his hand placed on a dictionary rather than a book of scripture because officials could find no Bible.

The glitch, in a packed courtroom of the historic Ulster County Courthouse in Kingston, N.Y., provided "a light moment" in the swearing-in of Donald A. Williams as Ulster County judge, the Daily Freeman of Kingston reported Sunday.

Williams said later he didn't mind using a dictionary instead of a Bible because the swearing-in Saturday was purely ceremonial.

The former district attorney, a Republican, officially became the county judge Friday.

U.S. government officials are not required to swear in on a Bible, but most do so as a demonstration of the binding nature of the promise. The act also adds solemnity to the ceremony.

Most officials use their own family Bible.

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