Shortly after noon on Friday, a few close friends, staff and family members of Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning gathered in his third-floor courtroom in the criminal courthouse on Grant Street.
They kept peeking out the door and down the hallway to where the voting had just taken place.
The atmosphere was that of a surprise party.
And when, a few minutes later, the newly elected president judge for Allegheny County strode into the room, there were applause, hugs and kisses, and the playing on someone's phone of "Hail to the Chief."
The judge blushed, thanked his supporters and quickly went back about his work.
He won the secret ballot vote 39-0, with two judges absent.
Judge Manning, 66, will begin his five-year term as head of the Allegheny County court system on Dec. 24, per court rule. For the past five years he has served as the administrative judge in the criminal division and has been on the bench since being appointed in 1988. He won his own 10-year term a year later.
The president judge, in conjunction with the court administrator, are responsible for implementing policies and procedures established by the state Supreme Court, preparing and managing the court's annual budget, implementing new court programs and managing more than 1,200 court employees.
During his time on the court, Judge Manning has presided over some of the most high-profile cases to come through Allegheny County.
Those include most recently the case of Richard Poplawski, who was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to die for killing three Pittsburgh police officers in 2009.
He has presided over more than 400 jury trials, including 21 death penalty cases.
"Our court system is one of government's most vital institutions," Judge Manning said. "Our community places a great deal of trust in the court's ability to solve their disputes and to receive justice. We touch lives every day more directly and more personally than any other government office."
The judge said he was humbled by the support he received from his colleagues.
"This group of people, they are as talented and dedicated as anyone I have ever known," Judge Manning said. "They do their job with the appropriate dignity and honor with which it should be done."
He will succeed Judge Donna Jo McDaniel as president judge.