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Utah's newest federal judge pledged Monday to uphold the rule of law, to work hard and be evenhanded. 

Jill N. Parrish, who spent 12 years on the Utah Supreme Court, took the oath of office as a U.S. District judge, put on a black robe and took her place as one of four full-time federal judges in Utah.

Parrish drew universal praise during her investiture ceremony in the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City for her intellect, work ethic and evenhanded demeanor.

"I will work hard and be prepared," Parrish told several hundred judges, lawyers and invited guests. "I will keep an open mind and listen to both sides of the argument. I will always treat those who appear before me and those who work with me with dignity, courtesy and respect."

She also pledged to set aside any "personal beliefs or biases I may have and decide cases solely on the rule of law."

Parrish joins U.S. District Court judges David Nuffer, Clark Waddoups and Robert Shelby as full-time federal judges.

She replaces Judge Dee Benson, who took senior status, a semiretirement title that means he presides over a smaller caseload. Other senior judges are Bruce Jenkins, David Sam, Dale Kimball, Tena Campell and Ted Stewart.

Besides most of the federal bench in Utah, the hourlong ceremony was attended by U.S. Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, who are members of the Judiciary Committee that unanimously recommended President Barack Obama's nomination of Parrish be confirmed, as well as two members of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, federal bankruptcy judges and justices of the Utah Supreme Court and attorneys and members of Parrish's family.

Utah Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham lamented the loss of the only other female on her bench.

"It took me almost 25 years on the state bench to get me a female colleague, and I enjoyed every minute of our over 12 years together," Durham said. 

While Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant joked about Parrish's onetime honor of being named Weber County Dairy Princess, he also lamented her leaving to join the federal bench.

"We consider this a deep loss to our court," Durrant said. "In many ways, Jill was the heart of our court."

Parrish was first nominated to the federal bench by Obama in September 2014, but Congress adjourned before the Senate took up a confirmation vote.

She was renominated again in early 2015 and in May won confirmation on a 100-0 vote.

"It's not a bad outcome at all," said Lee, who had shared an office with Parrish in the law firm then known as Parr, Waddoups, Brown, Gee & Loveless that she had joined after graduation from the Yale Law School and a stint as a clerk for then-U.S. District Judge David Winder.

Judges Clark Waddoups and Dale Kimball were members of that firm. Waddoups presented Parrish with her commission from Obama as part of the ceremony, while Kimball administered the oath of office.

Parrish earlier took an informal oath of office and had been hearing cases before Monday's formal investiture.

Parrish also served as an assistant U.S. attorney for Utah in civil cases.

She was appointed to the Utah Supreme Court in 2003 by then-Gov. Mike Leavitt.

Parrish has an undergraduate degree from Weber State University in Ogden.

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