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.