Stafford stood before the governor with his right hand raised and his left hand atop a Bible held by his wife, Tempe. The governor read the oath, and Stafford pledged to uphold it.
The investiture ceremony, held Friday in the Lannom Center, was a formality.
Stafford had actually been sworn into office three months earlier. Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice William M. Barker administered the oath during a judicial conference June 12 in Gatlinburg. Stafford has been considering appeals court cases since July.
A crowd filled the largest room at the Lannom Center. Judges, attorneys and other officials from across the state mingled with Stafford's family and friends, eager to witness the moment.
Alan E. Highers, presiding judge for the western section appeals court, said Stafford is the first person appointed to that court in 13 years. He replaces Judge Frank Crawford, who died in March after serving 26 years on the appeals court.
Stafford will be one of four judges in the western section. The others include Highers, David Farmer and Holly Kirby.
Bredesen said Stafford had served as chancellor for Dyer and Lake counties for 15 years and was selected "Judge of the Year" in 2007 by the Tennessee Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He and the sheriff's department also work with local schools, educating students about the dangers of methamphetamines, Bredesen said.
After the investiture, Bredesen said he appointed Stafford because of his strong qualifications and reputation as a chancery court judge. There was almost a universal feeling across political and geographical lines that Stafford was the person for the judgeship, the governor said. He noted that Stafford's peers hold him in high esteem.
Stafford thanked everyone who'd made the investiture possible and selected a few people for special recognition. First, he thanked God, saying "none of this is possible without his grace."
His list also included his secretary, Pattye Mallard; Ted Mosch and Richard Chesteen, professors at the University of Tennessee at Martin; Doug Wilkerson, his law partner for 10 years; former Gov. Ned McWherter, who appointed him chancellor years ago; retired Judge Joe Riley, who has been a mentor and friend; Bredesen; and his wife and two daughters: Lynlee Stacy and Sydnee Stafford.
Also on the program Friday:
* William B. Acree, circuit court judge for the 27th judicial district, who greeted the crowd.
* The Rev. Mike Hickman of First Baptist Church, who gave the invocation.
* Highers, who offered welcoming remarks.
* Riley, who roasted Stafford.
* State Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, who introduced the governor.
A reception followed the ceremony. The event was made possible by the Dyer County Bar Association, the Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce, the city of Dyersburg, the county of Dyer and the Tennessee Bar Foundation.