A chancery judge was thousands of miles from home when the day arrived for him to take the oath of office, so he picked up the phone.

Judge Ben Storey of Forrest City, a reservist who is on duty in the Persian Gulf, took the oath of office for his new term by telephone on New Year's Day.Storey has been with the U.S. Army in Saudi Arabia since Dec. 4.

Judge John Pittman of Helena, also a chancery judge in eastern Arkansas, said he had expected Storey's call but didn't know what time it would come. Storey telephoned at 5 a.m.; Pittman administered the oath in his bathrobe.

"They are not allowed to phone often or give their location, but I knew hopefully that he was going to call on New Year's Day," Pittman said.

Storey has served a a chancery judge for eight years, Pittman said. He was elected to another term in November. A chancery judge handles civil matters such as lawsuits and wills.