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ALL CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE BIOS


 

Judge Stephanie Abraham

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Judge Stephanie Abraham

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Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Kanawha County)

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Governor Jim Justice appointed Judge Stephanie Abraham to the Kanawha County Circuit Court bench in August 2023.

Judge Abraham received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Syracuse University in 2000 and a law degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Law in 2003. She is licensed to practice law in West Virginia and Maryland.

Her legal career has included civil litigation, corporate matters, and representing state and county governmental agencies. She also owned and operated a law firm as a solo practitioner engaged in real estate and property law since 2017. Most recently, she has been the General Counsel for the West Virginia Board of Education. She was also an attorney for the West Virginia Department of Education and was previously a judicial law clerk at the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia for the Seventh Judicial Circuit. She was also an Instructor of Business and Lead Faculty for Career Programs at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College and has served on the school’s Board of Governors.

She and her husband, Brian, have two sons and live in South Charleston.

Judge Maryclaire Akers

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Judge Maryclaire Akers

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Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Kanawha County)

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Judge Akers is a Kanawha County native and 1992 graduate of George Washington High School. She has a 1995 bachelor’s degree in Journalism from West Virginia University. She graduated from the West Virginia University College of Law in 1999.

Judge Akers practiced law in Kanawha County for over twenty years, most of that time in the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney's Office where she served as Chief of Staff, Special Assistant United States Attorney and a Senior Assistant Prosecutor. Judge Akers also worked as a private attorney, has served as General Counsel to the West Virginia Ethics Commission, and as a West Virginia Assistant Attorney General.

Judge Akers work as a prosecutor has been profiled on Sirens Media for ID Channel; Nightmare Next Door, Season 2, Episode 216 “Writing on the Wall”; Sirens Media for ID Channel; Evil Kin, Episode 102 “The Mallo Family”; The Killing Season; Season 1, Episode 6 “A Killer on the Road”; Talos Films; Heart of Darkness; and Season 1, Episode 1, “Lust for Murder”. She has also appeared on CNN, Tonight with Don Lemon, July 27, 2015; “The Shocking Story of a Woman Who Fought Back Against Suspected Serial Killer – And Lived To Tell About It.”

Judge Akers has served on the community boards of Daymark, Charleston Area Medical Center and Harmony Health. She has also served on the board of the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the West Virginians Against Violence Committee and the West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice. Judge Akers was a Commissioner for the West Virginia State Elections Commission from 2020 to 2021. She has also given multiple presentations for West Virginia Handle with Care and other agencies.

Judge Akers was named a West Virginia Rising Star by Virginia & West Virginia Super Lawyers Magazine, 2009. She was awarded a United States Attorney Award for Distinguished Service, United States Attorney, SDWV, 2011 and was named as one of West Virginia’s Lawyers & Leaders by West Virginia Executive Magazine and West Virginia University College of Law in 2020.

Judge Akers is licensed to practice in the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, United States District Court, SDWV and the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

She is married to Charleston attorney JB Akers, they have three children.

 

Judge Jack Alsop

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Judge Jack Alsop

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Fourteenth Judicial Circuit (Braxton, Clay, Gilmer, and Webster Counties)

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Judge Alsop is a native of Webster Springs. He has a 1973 bachelor’s degree in political science from West Virginia University and a 1977 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.

He was a sole practitioner in Webster Springs from 1977 to 1996 and served as the elected Webster County prosecutor from 1985 to 1989. He was chairman of the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facilities Authority from 1989 until 1996.

Then-Governor Gaston Caperton appointed him to the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Braxton, Gilmer, and Webster Counties) bench in 1996. He was elected in 1998 and re-elected 2000, 2008, and 2016.

Judge Alsop is chairman of the Supreme Court Compliance Committee on Prisons and Jails. He is a past president of the West Virginia Judicial Association and serves on the Legislative, Re-alignment, Pensions, and Special Needs Committees of the Judicial Association. He is a frequent speaker at continuing education seminars and is very active in the Supreme Court’s Robes to Schools program, in which he reads to school children and tells them about the judicial system.

He was named a Bar Foundation Fellow in 2013.

He and his wife, Linda, live in Webster Springs. They have three children and five grandchildren.

 

Judge Michael W. Asbury

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Judge Michael W. Asbury 

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Fourteenth Judicial Circuit (Braxton, Clay, Gilmer, and Webster Counties)

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Governor Jim Justice appointed Clay County attorney Michael W. Asbury, Jr., to the bench in the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit (Braxton, Clay, Gilmer and Webster Counties) in August 2023.

Judge Asbury is a native of Clay County, a 2002 graduate of West Virginia State University and a 2005 graduate of West Virginia University College of Law. Before his appointment, he owned his own law practice in Clay County and served clients throughout the area.

He is married to his high school sweetheart, Carrie Asbury, and they have four children and six grandchildren. The couple is active in Fairview Baptist Temple in Clay, and Judge Asbury is an outdoor enthusiast.

 

Judge Anita Harold Ashley

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Judge Anita Harold Ashley

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Fifth Judicial Circuit (Calhoun, Jackson, Mason, and Roane Counties)

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Judge Ashley was elected in May 2016 to a new seat in the Fifth Judicial Circuit (Calhoun, Jackson, Mason, and Roane Counties). Her term began January 1, 2017.

A Glenville native, she has a 1978 bachelor’s degree in English, summa cum laude, from Glenville State College and a 1981 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.

At the time of her election, Judge Ashley had been in private practice for 35 years. She was a Family Law Master from 1986 to 1989 and a Jackson County assistant prosecutor in 2002. During her tenure as a Family Law Master, Judge Ashley served on the Judicial Investigation Commission and on several select committees of the Supreme Court.

She was named one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by US News &World Report from 2012 to 2016 and one of “West Virginia’s Best Attorneys” by The State Journal from 2012 to 2016. She was named a National Top 10 Attorney by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys in 2014.

She is a member of the American Bar Association and West Virginia State Bar, Spencer Rotary (serving as its first female president), Roane County College Scholarship Foundation, Roane County Chamber of Commerce, and St. John’s United Methodist Church. She also has been an active volunteer with scouting organizations.

Judge Ashley is married to Bob Ashley, a former legislator. They are the parents of two adult sons, Ben and Sam.

 

Judge Jennifer Bailey

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Judge Jennifer Bailey

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Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Kanawha County)

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Judge Bailey was born in Charleston and raised in Belle.  She is a 1977 graduate of Hollins College and a 1980 graduate of West Virginia University College of Law and also completed classes at the University of Paris (Sorbonne) and l’institut d’etudes politique de Paris.

She practiced law in Charleston from 1980 to 1993, completing her practice as a partner with the firm of Hamb, Poffenbarger & Bailey.  Having worked during eleven legislative sessions for the West Virginia House of Delegates and one session for the West Virginia Senate, in 1993 she became the first full-time lawyer for the West Virginia Senate where she primarily served as Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In 2002, she was appointed by the Governor to serve on the bench in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Kanawha County).  She was thereafter elected in 2004, 2008 and 2016 and has served as Chief Judge in Kanawha County in 2008, 2013, 2017 and 2022. She was instrumental in establishing the Kanawha County Day Report Center and serves on its board.  Since its opening in 2009, she has presided over the Kanawha County Adult Drug Court, one of the first to be established in the state.  In 2016, the Drug Court celebrated the graduation of 100 participants since its inception.

She is the recipient of the 2002 Outstanding Public Servant Award by the West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and has served on the Board of Directors of the West Virginia Legal Aid Society and on the Division of Juvenile Services Director’s Advisory Council.  She has also served on the committees for Dropout Prevention Summit Planning Group, Project INTER-CEPT (Interventions Needed To End Recidivism – Critical Entry Point Team) and on the Board of Recovery Point-Charleston, a treatment facility for women.

In 2017, she was appointed by the Chief Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to serve as the West Virginia Chair of the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative (RJOI), whose membership included representatives from Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, and West Virginia. Additionally, she has served on the Board of Directors of the West Virginia Judicial and Lawyer Assistance Program (WVJLAP) since 2018.  In 2019 she became a Fellow of the West Virginia Bar Foundation.

Having served longer than any other female circuit judge in West Virginia, in 2022 Judge Bailey was honored to become the first female judge to serve as President of the West Virginia Judicial Association since it was established in the 1970s. She also previously served on the Legislative Committee and on the 2024 Judicial Realignment Committee, which made recommendations to the Legislature concerning legislation that was adopted in 2023 and effective in 2024.  Judge Bailey presently serves on the Executive and Education committees and as Chair of the Drug Court Judge Committee of the Judicial Association.

In addition to the State of West Virginia, she is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court.

She is a member of Christ Church United Methodist in Charleston, where she has served on the Board of Trustees and on the Staff Parish Relations Committee.

She is most proudly the mother of one daughter.

 

Judge Kenneth D. Ballard

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Judge Kenneth D. Ballard

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Thirteenth Judicial Court Circuit (Kanawha County)

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Judge Kenneth Ballard was born in 1974 and grew up in Charleston. He graduated from George Washington High School in 1992. He was a member of the 1991 AAA Boys West Virginia Cross County Championship team and he was the AAA boy 800 meter State Champion.

He has a 1997 bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Marshall University and a 2001 law degree magna cum laude from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, where he was an associate editor of the Law Review.

After graduating from Marshall University, he worked for a year as an Environmental Scientist for Roy F. Weston. After graduating from law school he worked at the Charleston firm Bickley & Jacobs, where he had worked during summers since high school. He then opened his own practice in 2004. He also worked as a Kanawha County Mental Hygiene Commissioner from 2006-2008.

He is admitted to practice before The West Virginia Supreme Court and the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

He was elected to the Eleventh Family Court Circuit (Kanawha County) in 2008 and re-elected in 2016. He is the past president and president-elect of the Family Court Judges Association. He is also the Kanawha County Juvenile Drug Court Judge. On April 26, 2021, Judge Ballard was appointed by the Governor to the circuit court seat that became vacant when former Kanawha County Judge Tod Kaufman retired.

Judge Ballard is a softball coach of Mountaineer Little League and a Boy Scout Troop committee member. He is married to Allison Ballard and they have three children.

 

Judge Thomas A. Bedell

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Judge Thomas A. Bedell

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Fifteenth Judicial Circuit (Harrison County)

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Judge Bedell was born in and raised in Clarksburg and graduated from Washington Irving High School. He received a 1978 bachelor’s degree in political science from Salem College and in 1981 received both a master’s degree in public administration and a law degree from West Virginia University.

He served as Clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Maxwell in the Northern District of West Virginia from 1981 to 1983, when he opened his own general law practice in Clarksburg. He handled civil and criminal cases, including jury trials in both circuit court and federal court. He was town attorney for the Town of Lost Creek from 1983 to 1992.

He was elected to the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit (Harrison County) bench in 1992, re-elected in 2000, 2008, and 2016. He was chief judge from 1995 to 2000, 2008-2010, and since 2014.

Judge Bedell established the Juvenile Drug Court in Harrison County in 2012 and is its presiding judge. He was appointed to serve as a temporary Justice on the Supreme Court of Appeals in 2013 in a case in which a Justice was recused.

In Harrison County he is known as “the love judge” because each year he dedicates Valentine’s Day to conducting weddings, individual and one mass event.

He and his wife, Debra, have two daughters.

 

Judge Joshua D. Butcher

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Judge Joshua D. Butcher

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Seventh Judicial Circuit (Logan County)

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Judge Butcher was born and raised in Logan County and is a 1998 graduate of Beth Haven Christian School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Marshall University in 2003 and his law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law in 2006.

Judge Butcher worked a short stint in private practice and served as a Logan County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney. Most notably, he served eight years as Law Clerk to Judge Roger Perry in Division One of the Seventh Judicial Circuit (Logan County) – the seat Judge Butcher now holds after his election to the bench in 2016. He is a former president of the Logan County Bar Association and current member of the West Virginia Judicial Association.

Judge Butcher is married to Jamie Dempsey Butcher and they have two daughters. He met his wife doing community theatre in Logan County in 1999 and you can still find his family and him on the local stage from time to time. Judge Butcher is currently the youngest circuit judge in West Virginia.

 

Judge Stephen O. Callaghan

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Judge Stephen O. Callaghan

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Twenty-Eighth Judicial Circuit (Nicholas County)

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Judge Stephen O. Callaghan grew up in Richwood, WV and graduated from Richwood High School in 1984. He has a 1988 bachelor’s degree in English from West Virginia University and a 1994 law degree from The Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan.

After Law School he and his wife, Julia, who he met in law school, joined the Summersville law firm of Callaghan & Callaghan, PLLC, where he was a third-generation lawyer. The Callaghan family has provided legal services in Nicholas County continuously since 1937.

He practiced law for twenty-two years concentrating in the areas of real estate and natural resources with an emphasis on legal issues related to the acquisition of mineral estates and development of natural resources. In addition to handling all types of criminal matters, he was heavily involved in representation of children who had been abused and neglected.

He won the election for Judge in the Twenty-Eighth Judicial Circuit (Nicholas County) in the May 2016 election.

He is a member of the West Virginia State Bar and enjoys playing in a bluegrass band and mountain biking. He lives in Summersville with his wife, attorney Julia Callaghan, and their son, Brooks Callaghan.

 

Judge H. Charles Carl, III

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Judge H. Charles Carl, III
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Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit (Hampshire, Hardy, and Pendleton Counties)

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Judge Carl is a native of Springfield in Hampshire County. He graduated from Hampshire High School in 1980, earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in 1984, and earned a law degree from Capital University Law School in 1987.

Judge Carl was appointed to the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit (Hampshire, Hardy, and Pendleton Counties) in 2013, was elected in 2014, and re-elected for a full eight-year term in 2016. Judge Carl served a full seven-year term as judge in the Business Court Division from 2015-2022. He is also the supervising drug court judge of the South Branch Valley Drug Court and has served by temporary assignments as a justice on the Supreme Court of Appeals. He is a past president of the West Virginia Judicial Association.

He started practicing law in Romney with his grandfather, William. H. Ansel, Jr., in 1987, and this firm grew into Carl, Keaton, Frazer & Milleson, PLLC. While engaged in the general practice of law for over 25 years, he was a criminal, civil, domestic, and estate litigator. Judge Carl was also general counsel for the Bank of Romney, where he served as a director for more than 20 years. He was president of the South Branch Valley Bar Association from 2006 until his appointment to the bench.

Judge Carl coached youth basketball for many years and is a member of the Hampshire County Athletic Hall of Fame. He resides in Romney with his wife, Lisa. They have three daughters and two granddaughters.

Judge Micheal M. Cochrane

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Judge Micheal M. Cochrane

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Twenty-Seventh Judicial Circuit (Wyoming County)

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Judge Cochrane is a native of Logan County and a 1985 graduate of Man High School. He spent four years in the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman, first at Portsmouth Naval Hospital and then assigned to a Marine Corps infantry platoon and company. After discharge, he earned degrees from Marshall University (1994) and Mississippi College of Law (1998).

He was licensed to practice law in North Carolina in 1999 and in West Virginia in 2000. He worked at Elam Law in Charlotte, N.C., a small medical malpractice firm, from 1998 to 2002, when he moved to Wyoming County to work as an attorney for the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement, a position he held through 2012. In 2009, he became a part-time assistant prosecutor and, in 2012, became a full-time assistant prosecutor in Wyoming County. He was appointed prosecutor in March 2013 and was subsequently elected to the position, which he held until Governor Jim Justice appointed him to the bench in 2021.

Judge Cochrane has one adult son.

He is a member of the Pineville Church of the Nazarene and broadcasts high school football games for radio.

 

Judge Kelly Codispoti

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Judge Kelly Codispoti

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Seventh Judicial Circuit (Logan County)

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Judge Kelly Gilmore Codispoti was born and raised in Logan County. She has a 1977 bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University and a 1980 law degree from Ohio Northern University.

Then-Governor Bob Wise appointed her to the Ninth Family Court Circuit (Logan County) in 2001. She was elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2008 and 2016. In 2022 she was appointed to the Seventh Judicial Circuit seat left vacant when Eric O'Briant retired.

She began practicing law in Logan County in 1980 with Valentine, Wilson & Partain; Cagle & Garten; and as a solo practitioner before becoming a Child Advocate Attorney (now Bureau of Child Support Enforcement) in both Logan and Mingo Counties. She was also a public defender in Logan County and an assistant Logan County prosecuting attorney before her judicial appointment.

Judge Codispoti is married to former Logan County Magistrate Leonard L. Codispoti, and they have two children and two grandchildren.

 

Judge Bridget Cohee

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Judge Bridget Cohee

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Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit (Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties)

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Judge Bridget Cohee is currently serving the 23rd Judicial Circuit in Jefferson and Berkeley Counties. In January 2025, Jefferson County will be its own circuit. Judge Cohee was elected in May 2016. She presides over civil, felony, abuse and neglect, and juvenile cases. In addition to her service on the bench in those matters, Judge Cohee serves on the Judicial Investigation Commission, the Court Improvement Project, Juvenile Drug Court, and she is a member of the Executive Committee for the Judicial Association.

Prior to her election, Judge Cohee practiced law as a civil defense attorney for 16 years and was the managing member of the Martinsburg office of Steptoe & Johnson, PLLC. She also accepted court-appointed cases representing children as their guardian ad litem in abuse and neglect cases.

Judge Cohee has served on the West Virginia University College of Law Visiting Committee, the Shepherd University Board of Governors, and the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle Board of Directors.

Judge Cohee earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Mt. St. Mary’s University, her masters of science in education/counseling from the University of Kentucky, and her Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law. She was admitted to practice in West Virginia, Maryland, and before the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Cohee lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, with her husband of 33 years, Gerard Nevin, with whom she has one adult daughter. 

 

Judge James W. Courrier, Jr.

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Judge James W. Courrier, Jr.

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Twenty-First Judicial Circuit (Grant, Mineral, Tucker Counties)

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Judge James W. “Jay” Courrier, Jr., was raised in Keyser. He has a 1988 associate’s degree in English from Potomac State College and a 1989 bachelor’s degree in English from West Virginia University. He has a 1993 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law, where he was Order of the Barristers, on the National Moot Court team, and won the Best Brief Award in the annual Baker Cup appellate advocacy competition.

Then-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Judge Courrier to the bench in the Twenty-First Judicial Circuit (Grant, Mineral and Tucker Counties) on January 12, 2016, to fill a vacancy created by the December 31, 2015, retirement of his predecessor. He was sworn into office on February 2, 2016. In May 2016 he was elected to a full eight-year term beginning January 1, 2017.

Judge Courrier previously had been the elected Mineral County Prosecuting Attorney for seven years. He began his legal career in 1994 as an associate with the Law Office of Barr and James. In 1996 he became a sole practitioner and began working as assistant prosecuting attorney for Mineral County. He also worked part time as Allegany County’s assistant state’s attorney in Maryland.

He is a member of the Mineral County Parks and Recreation Board, the Mineral County Community Criminal Justice Board and Chairman of the Mineral County Courthouse Security Committee.

He is the past president and long-time treasurer of the Kiwanis Club of Keyser. He is president of the Potomac State College Alumni Association and Apple Alley Players community theatre group. He is a member of the boards of Community Lutheran Partners, Food for Thought, Faith in Action Food Pantry, and the Keyser Youth Basketball League. As an attorney he was active in the Mineral County Bar Association and its committees.

He is a lay minister and youth leader at Trinity Lutheran Church in Keyser and has coached youth baseball and basketball for more than ten years.

As an attorney, he was highly rated for his legal ability and ethical standards in Martindale-Hubbell. He won the West Virginia Broadcasters Association Award for best Play-By-Play in 2015 for his broadcasts of Keyser High School football games.

He and his wife, Lara L. Courrier, live in Keyser and have three children. Mrs. Courrier is an elected member of the Mineral County Board of Education.

 

Judge Jason A. Cuomo

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Judge Jason A. Cuomo

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First Judicial Circuit (Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio Counties) 

Judge Jason A. Cuomo was born in Steubenville, Ohio, and was raised in Follansbee, West Virginia. He has a 1993 bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in political science from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, and a 1996 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law. While in law school he was a member of the Order of the Coif and Law Review, and he served as executive editor of Volume 98 of the Law Review.

He practiced law with his father, Frank Cuomo, at the Wellsburg firm Cuomo and Cuomo from the time he graduated from law school until Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed him to the bench on July 10, 2015. Judge Cuomo was named to fill the vacancy in the First Judicial Circuit (Brooke, Hancock and Ohio Counties) created by the retirement of Judge Martin J. Gaughan on June 30, 2015. He was then elected in 2016.

He has served on a number of boards and commissions, including the Brooke County Schools Education Foundation and the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education. He has coached several youth sports teams.

He and his wife, Dana, have a daughter and a son, and the family lives in Follansbee.

 

Judge Perri Jo DeChristopher

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Judge Perri Jo DeChristopher

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Seventeenth Judicial Circuit (Monongalia County)

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Perri Jo DeChristopher is Chief Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court (Monongalia County). Governor Jim Justice appointed Judge DeChristopher to the bench to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Philip D. Gaujot. She took office on January 27, 2023.

She was born and raised in Monongalia County and attended Morgantown High School. She is a graduate of West Virginia University and West Virginia University College of Law.

Judge DeChristopher’s career in public service began when she accepted a position in the Harrison County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in 1994. In 1998, she began working in the Monongalia County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as an assistant prosecuting attorney, and she became chief assistant in 2000. She was elected Prosecuting Attorney of Monongalia County in 2016 and re-elected in 2020.

For more than 20 years, Judge DeChristopher was responsible for prosecution of murder charges, violent felony offenses, felony drug cases, and sexual assault crimes involving children and adults. She was a member of the Monongalia County Sexual Assault Response Team, chair of the Mon Metro Drug Task Force Board of Directors, a founding member of the Monongalia County Adult Drug Court, vice president of the West Virginia Association of Counties, and is a past president of the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Association.

She was appointed by the governor to the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Commission and was the vice chair of the West Virginia Sentencing Commission under the Governor’s Committee on Crime, Delinquency, and Correction.

Outside of her legal career, Judge DeChristopher was an officer on the board of Mon General Hospital and is an executive board member of Your Community Foundation of North Central West Virginia (YCF).

She was inducted as a West Virginia Bar Fellow in 2023.

She and her husband, retired West Virginia State Trooper Chuck Porter, have two children.

 

Judge Jennifer P. Dent

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Judge Jennifer P. Dent

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Eleventh Judicial Circuit (Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties)

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Judge Jennifer P. Dent was appointed to serve on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit (Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties) on May 19, 2016 by then-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Previously thereto, she was elected on May 10, 2016, for a term that began on January 1, 2017.

In addition to her role as the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Judge, Judge Dent was appointed by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia in 2019 to serve as a Judge in the Business Court Division for a seven-year term. Judge Dent has also served by temporary assignment as a Justice on the Supreme Court of Appeals. Furthermore, she has been a member of the Juvenile Justice Commission since 2016 and she currently presides over the Southeastern Regional Drug Court in Pocahontas County.

Judge Dent is a native of Lewisburg, West Virginia, located in Greenbrier County. She attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham and received a bachelor’s degree in business in 1983. She then obtained her Doctor of Jurisprudence from the Cumberland School of Law in 1986.

Following law school, she worked for the Central Bank of the South. She thereafter joined the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Eastern Division, serving as a law clerk from 1987 to 1989 and as the Deputy Clerk in Charge from 1989 to 1991. Following her clerkship, she practiced as an attorney at the Najjar, Denaburg Law Firm in Birmingham, Alabama.

Judge Dent returned to West Virginia in 1994, where she began working as an assistant prosecutor in Summers County (1994 to 2002) and an assistant prosecutor in Monroe County (1998 to 2002). From 2002 until her appointment to the bench, she was an assistant prosecutor in Greenbrier County.

When she is not on the bench, she enjoys bicycling and serves as a member of the Mutual Improvement Club of Ronceverte and the Greenbrier Valley Bike Club, which sponsors Wheels of Hope to assist local cancer patients. Additionally, she is the 2005 recipient of the Champion for Children Award from the Child and Youth Advocacy Center. She and her husband, David Dent, have two sons.

 

Judge Andrew Dimlich

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Judge Andrew Dimlich

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Tenth Judicial Circuit (Raleigh County)

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Judge Dimlich was elected in May 2016 to a new seat in the Tenth Judicial Circuit (Raleigh County). His term began January 1, 2017.

Judge Dimlich was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and raised in Centerville, Ohio. He has a 1988 bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University and a 1992 law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law.

He began his legal career as an associate at the law firm Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown and Poe. He managed civil litigation and defense cases. From 1996 to 1997 he served as an Assistant West Virginia Attorney General and was counsel for all of the state’s public colleges and universities. From 1999 to his election he was an Assistant Raleigh County Prosecutor.

He received the Champion of Children Award from the Child Advocacy Center in 2013.

He is a member of the United Methodist Temple in Beckley. He is an assistant coach to his children's sports teams and to the United Methodist Temple Upward Basketball Team. He has worked with the Big Brother program in Charleston.

He and his wife, Family Court Judge Suzanne McGraw, have twins who are seniors at Woodrow Wilson High School.

 

Judge Lora Dyer

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Judge Lora Dyer

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Fifth Judicial Circuit (Calhoun, Jackson, Mason, and Roane Counties)

A southern West Virginia native, Judge Dyer earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology (with an emphasis in anthropology and minors in chemistry and biology) from Marshall University in 2000. She spent a summer studying environmental engineering abroad at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in England. She earned her law degree from West Virginia University College of law in 2003.

She began her legal career in 2003 as an intern to the late Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Albright. Following her West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals experience, she served as a law clerk to Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Kanawha County) Judge James C. Stucky. Thereafter, she served as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Kanawha County until she joined the law firm of Hendrickson & Long PLLC. In private practice she gained experience in a wide range of civil and criminal matters. She also served as law clerk to Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Carrie L. Webster.

Judge Dyer was elected in May 2016 to a seat in the Fifth Judicial Circuit (Calhoun, Jackson, Mason, and Roane Counties). Her term began January 1, 2017. At the time of her election, she was General Counsel to West Virginia State Auditor Lisa A. Hopkins and Senior Deputy Commissioner of the West Virginia Securities Commission.

Judge Dyer is a member of the West Virginia Judicial Association and the West Virginia Bar Association. She is a member of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, International, and The Judge John A. Field Jr. American Inns of Court. Additionally, she is a member of Pilot International and volunteers with her local chapter on various community service projects.

She lives with her family in Jackson County.

 

Judge Thomas H. Ewing

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Judge Thomas H. Ewing

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Twelfth Judicial Circuit (Fayette County)

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Thomas H. Ewing took office as a judge of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit (Fayette County) on January 2, 2019, after being appointed by Governor Jim Justice on December 7, 2018.

Judge Ewing is a native of Fayette County. He grew up in Hico and graduated from Midland Trail High School. He has bachelor’s degrees in education (2000) and history (2001) from Glenville State College and a 2004 law degree from West Virginia University, where he was Order of the Coif and Executive Research Editor and Associate Editor of the West Virginia Law Review. At Glenville State, he was a four-year member and captain of the men’s basketball team, won numerous student-athlete scholarships, and was named the 2001 top graduating student-athlete.

Judge Ewing was an attorney with the law firm Kay, Casto & Chaney from 2004 until his appointment to the bench and was the managing member of its Fayetteville office from 2015 to 2018. He previously had a federal judicial externship with U.S. District Court Chief Judge Irene Keeley (2003), was a research assistant at the College of Law (2002), and was a certified teacher in Fayette County (2001).

He is a member of the 2007 Leadership West Virginia class.

He has been a volunteer and coach with the Midland Trail Little League; Ansted Braves Baseball; middle school baseball, Upper Deck League in Beckley; and the New River Patriots Youth Football Association. He has been an Organizer and President of the John A. Flournoy Youth Basketball League; President of the Board of Directors of the Midland Trail Community Center; Commissioner, Fayette County Deputy Sheriff’s Civil Service Commission; Member of the Board of Directors, Fayette County Public Defender Corporation; and Member-at-Large of the Board of Directors, Fayette County Community Criminal Justice Board.

He is active in the Sunday Road Baptist Church in Hico. Judge Ewing lives in Edmond with his wife, Mindy, and their four children.

 

Judge Laura V. Faircloth

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Judge Laura V. Faircloth

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Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit (Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties)

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Judge Faircloth is a native of Berkeley County. She has a 1981 bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from Shepherd College and a 1984 law degree from West Virginia University.

She was elected to a new seat in the Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit (Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties) in May 2016. Her term began January 1, 2017.

At the time of her election she led the six-person Law Offices of Laura Faircloth in Martinsburg. Previously, she was a partner in a multi-state law firm of Preiser, Tabor, Lindsey & Cotelli; an associate with Askin, Pill, Scales & Burke, Martin and Seibert, and Lewis, Ciccarello, Masinter & Friedberg.

She has been board certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1989 in the field of civil trial work, including pretrial practice. She has provided pro bono legal services to Berkeley County Volunteer Fire Departments, the Berkeley County Historical Society, and the Berkeley County Farm Bureau.

Judge Faircloth is a past president of the Berkeley County Bar (1990-91) and a former member of the Board of Governors for the Young Lawyers Section of the West Virginia State Bar (1988-91). She served on the Berkeley County Civil Service Commission for Deputy Sheriffs (1991-92) and as president of the West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association (1996).

Judge Faircloth is a lifetime member of the Berkeley County Historical Society, Girl Scouts of America, and the National Rifle Association. She is also a supporter of the Children’s Miracle Network.

She lives in Martinsburg and has two children.

 

Judge Paul T. Farrell

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Judge Paul T. Farrell

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Sixth Judicial Circuit (Cabell County)

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Judge Farrell was born in Huntington. He graduated from Xavier University in 1971 and West Virginia University College of Law in 1978. He was appointed to the bench in the Sixth Judicial Circuit (Cabell County) by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin on February 14, 2011, and was elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. He is one of seven Business Court Division judges.

At the time of his appointment to the bench he had been practicing law at Farrell, Farrell, & Farrell, PLLC, for fifteen years. He also previously served as Assistant Attorney General for West Virginia  (1978), Counsel for the West Virginia Senate President (1982-1989), Administrative Law Judge at the West Virginia Department of Employment Security (1988-1990), Hearing Examiner for the West Virginia Workers’ Compensation Board (1985-1988), Adjunct Professor of Criminal Justice at Marshall University (1982-1985), Assistant Trust Officer at First Huntington National Bank (1978-1980), Assistant Cabell County Prosecutor (1982-1990), solo practitioner (1980-1990) and Assistant United States Attorney (1990-1995). Judge Farrell served in the U. S. Army from 1971-1973 as a First Lieutenant.

Judge Farrell is active in the Huntington community, having served as Little League president and coach, youth soccer coach, high school and college soccer referee, and as a volunteer at Hospice of Huntington and Habitat for Humanity.

He is married to Charlene M. Farrell and they have three sons and seven grandchildren.

 

Judge Alfred E. Ferguson

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Judge Alfred E. Ferguson

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Sixth Judicial Circuit (Cabell County)

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Judge Ferguson was born and raised in Cabell County. He has a 1959 bachelor’s degree in political science from Marshall University and a 1962 law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law.

Then-Governor John D. Rockefeller IV appointed him to the bench in the Sixth Judicial Circuit (Cabell County) in 1977. He was elected in 1978, 1984, 1992, 2000, 2008, and 2016.

He has served as chief circuit judge numerous times and often has been appointed to serve on the Supreme Court in the place of a justice who was recused from a case. He is a former member of the Judicial Investigation Commission. He was the first presiding judge on the first Juvenile Drug Court established in West Virginia.

He was a part-time instructor at Marshall University, teaching criminal law, juvenile law, civil law and divorce law for more than twenty years.

Before he was appointed to the bench, Judge Ferguson served as an Assistant Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney for one year and as a divorce commissioner for two years. He also was a lawyer in private practice for fifteen years.

He is married to Teresa Ferguson, has ten children, twenty-one grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

 

Judge Jason J. Fry

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Judge Jason J. Fry

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Twenty-Fourth Judicial Circuit (Wayne County)

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Judge Jason J. Fry is a native of Wayne. He graduated from Wayne High School in 1993, Marshall University in 1997, and West Virginia University College of Law in 2000.

He was a judicial law clerk to the Twenty-Fourth Judicial Circuit (Wayne County) Judge Darrell Pratt from 2000 to 2002. He was an associate in the law firm of Plymale and Maddox, PLLC, now Maddox Law Firm, PLLC, from 2002 to 2020. Additionally, he also served as a Wayne County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney from 2002 to 2020 and was counsel to the Wayne County Commission from 2009 to 2020.

Judge Fry was elected to the bench in the Twenty-Fourth Judicial Circuit in 2020 to fill a vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Pratt.

He is married to the former Veva Prichard and has one son.

 

Judge Paul W. Gwaltney, Jr.

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Judge Paul W. Gwaltney, Jr. 

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Seventeenth Judicial Circuit (Monongalia County)

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Judge Paul W. Gwaltney, Jr., was sworn in as a judge in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit (Monongalia County) on June 2. Governor Jim Justice appointed Judge Gwaltney to replace Judge Susan B. Tucker, who retired April 28, 2023.

Judge Gwaltney was admitted to the West Virginia Bar in October 2003 after he graduated in the top 15 percent of his class in May 2003 from West Virginia University College of Law. He served as executive research editor of the Law Review his third year of law school and was an associate editor his second year. Before law school, he worked as a clerk in the Education Department for the Louis A. Johnson Veterans’ Administration Medical Center.

Judge Gwaltney has an undergraduate degree from Bob Jones University, where he participated in the South Carolina Student Legislature and also judged high school debates.

Before taking the bench, Judge Gwaltney had an active criminal defense practice in North Central West Virginia. During the first 17 years of his practice, he was a civil litigator. In December 2020, he opened Gwaltney Law Office with the sole purpose of representing individuals in criminal and juvenile abuse cases.

Judge Gwaltney married the former Lydia J. Board of Fairmont in 1998. In 2004 the Gwaltneys moved to Morgantown, where they raised two daughters. The family attends Calvary Chapel Morgantown.

 

Judge Kurt Hall

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Judge Kurt Hall

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Twenty-Sixth Judicial Circuit (Lewis and Upshur Counties)

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Judge Hall is a native of Brunswick, Ohio. He has a bachelor’s degree (1990) in Mining Engineering Technology from Fairmont State University and worked as a project engineer/Certified Mine Foreman’s Assistant before earning a law degree from West Virginia University College of Law in 1995.

Judge Hall was elected to a new seat in the Twenty-Sixth Judicial Circuit (Lewis and Upshur Counties) in May 2016. He took office on January 1, 2017.

He was a law clerk in an Elkins law firm, a public defender in the Second Judicial Circuit (Marshall, Tyler, and Wetzel Counties) and then a Randolph County assistant prosecuting attorney. He was an assistant prosecuting attorney in Harrison County for eleven years before then-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed him to the circuit bench in the Twenty-Sixth Judicial Circuit (Lewis and Upshur Counties) in 2013. He served sixteen months but was unsuccessful in retaining the seat in the 2014 election. He went on to work as a Lewis County assistant prosecuting attorney.

Judge Hall is a member of the Hopes Point Baptist Church and the Lewis County Senior Center Board of Directors. He and his wife, Liz, live in Jane Lew with their three children.

 

Judge David M. Hammer

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Judge David M. Hammer

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Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit (Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties)

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Judge Hammer was elected in May 2018. He is a 1985 graduate of Temple University and a 1988 graduate of the College of William & Mary, Marshall Wythe School of Law. Judge Hammer currently serves as the Supervising Judge of Jefferson County as well as its Drug Treatment Court Judge. He is a member of the West Virginia Judicial Association.

Before his election he worked for 26 years at Hammer, Ferretti & Schiavoni, which he co-founded in 1992. He concentrated his practice primarily in employment law, wage and hour, and municipal law. He served as President of the West Virginia Employment Lawyers and as President of the West Virginia Association of Justice. He also served as chairman of the Amicus Curiae committees of both organizations. He is a co-drafter of the West Virginia Voluntary Farmland Protection Act and was appointed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to serve on the West Virginia Agricultural Land Protection Authority.

Judge Hammer is a volunteer youth soccer referee. He and his wife, Effie, live in Shepherdstown and have two daughters and a son.

 

Judge Sean K. Hammers

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Judge Sean K. Hammers

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Sixth Judicial Circuit (Cabell County)

Judge Sean K. “Corky” Hammers started work as a judge in the Sixth Judicial Circuit (Cabell County) on January 2, 2024. 

Governor Jim Justice appointed Judge Hammers to the bench to replace Judge Christopher Chiles, who retired October 31, 2023. 

Judge Hammers is a graduate of Barboursville High School (1986) and has a bachelor’s degree in business and economics from Marshall University (1990). He has a law degree from Capital University Law School in Columbus (1993). He served as an assistant Cabell County prosecutor for 17 years before becoming Cabell County prosecutor in 2014, a position he held when he was appointed judge.

Judge Hammers lives in Barboursville with his wife, Beth, and two children.

Judge Dave Hardy

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Judge Dave Hardy

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Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Kanawha County)


Judge Dave Hardy was sworn in as a judge in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Kanawha County) on January 12, 2024. Governor Jim Justice appointed Judge Hardy to the bench to replace Judge Joanna Tabit, who passed away September 29. 

Judge Hardy is a native of Pratt in Kanawha County. He has two bachelor’s degrees: one in history and government and another in accounting from West Virginia University Institute of Technology. He has a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law. He is also a certified public accountant.

Judge Hardy was a member of Charleston City Council (1995-2001), a Kanawha County Commissioner (2001-2017), and Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Revenue (2017-2023). While a cabinet secretary, he was also the governor’s designee on the Municipal Home Rule Board, Investment Management Board, and the Board of Treasury Investments.

He has more than 33 years of experience in the private practice of law. He became a partner at Jackson Kelly in 1993 and, in 2012, he formed the Hardy Pence law firm. He has been named a “Best Lawyer in America” in energy law, as well as a “Top Lawyer” in West Virginia. He has lectured throughout the United States on occupational and mine health and safety law and, at the time of his appointment to the bench, he taught graduate classes on public budgeting and contract management at West Virginia State University.

Hardy lives in Charleston with his wife, Nadia. They have two children.

Judge Jay M. Hoke

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Judge Jay M. Hoke

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Twenty-Fifth Judicial Circuit (Boone and Lincoln Counties)

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Judge Hoke is a native of Lincoln County, where he was educated and was graduated from Guyan Valley High School in 1970. In 1974 he received his bachelor’s degree from Concord College. He received his master’s degree from Marshall University in 1976, followed by his law degree from West Virginia University College of Law in 1982.

Judge Hoke was first elected in 1988 as the Lincoln County prosecuting attorney, having previously been the assistant prosecutor and having been appointed prosecutor in 1987 and 1988. Prior to that appointment, Judge Hoke served as legal counsel to the West Virginia Public Service Commission from 1982 to 1987 and also served as Lincoln County administrator from 1977 to 1979, prior to entering the College of Law in 1979.

In 1992 Judge Hoke was elected to the bench in the Boone and Lincoln County circuit. He was re-elected in 2000, 2008, and 2016. He currently serves as Chief Judge of the Twenty-Fifth Judicial Circuit. He also is one of seven judges on the West Virginia Mass Litigation Panel, which processes complex litigation for the entire state.

Judge Hoke and his wife, Jann, have been married for twenty-five years and have three daughters.

 

Judge Gregory L. Howard

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Judge Gregory L. Howard

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Sixth Judicial Circuit (Cabell County)

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Judge Howard was elected in May 2016 to a seat in the Sixth Judicial Circuit (Cabell County). He took office on January 1, 2017.

He has a 1995 bachelors of business administration degree from Marshall University and a 1998 law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law.

Judge Howard was the first law clerk to the four circuit judges in Cabell County. After one year as a clerk, he became an Assistant Cabell County Prosecutor. As an assistant prosecutor, he helped establish the Cabell County Juvenile Drug Court in 1999.

From 2004 until he took the bench, he was a partner at the law firm of Bailey & Howard, handling civil and criminal matters. He also served as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates from 2002 to 2006 and was chief counsel to West Virginia Secretary of State Betty Ireland.

 

Judge Thomas B. Hoxie

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Judge Thomas B. Hoxie

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Nineteenth Judicial Circuit (Barbour and Taylor Counties)

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Judge Thomas Hoxie is a judge for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit (Barbour and Taylor Counties). Governor Jim Justice appointed Judge Hoxie to the bench to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Alan D. Moats.  He took the oath of office on February 24, 2023. 

Prior to being appointed, Judge Hoxie first practiced law in Barbour and Taylor Counties, representing clients in both civil and criminal litigation, until he was elected Barbour County Prosecuting Attorney in 2016.  He was re-elected in 2020 and served as prosecutor until being appointed to the bench.  During his time as prosecutor, Judge Hoxie prosecuted many high-profile cases, including jury trials for murder, kidnapping, and sexual assault.  He was also an active member of the Mountain Region Drug and Violent Crime Task Force.

Judge Hoxie grew up in Philippi and graduated from Philip Barbour High School.  He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and political science from Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina, and a law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.

He has been a soccer coach and served on several local boards and committees, including the boards of the Barbour County Senior Center and Broaddus Hospital.

He and his wife, Gemma, have three girls and live in Philippi.  The whole family enjoys visiting WV state parks, hiking, and camping.

 

Judge David R. Janes

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Judge David R. Janes

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Sixteenth Judicial Circuit (Marion County)

Judge Janes was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up in Fairmont, West Virginia. He has a 1973 bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University and earned a law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1977.

He practiced law in Fairmont for twenty-three years as a partner in the firm of Tharp, Liotta, Janes and Yokum. He was elected to the bench in the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit (Marion County) in 2000 and re-elected in 2008 and 2016.

During his years in private practice, he tried numerous civil and criminal cases and served as a member of the Board of Governors of the West Virginia State Bar, as special counsel to the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission, and as president of the Marion County Bar Association.

He is a member of the West Virginia Judicial Association and serves on its Education Committee. He is an adjunct lecturer at the West Virginia University College of Law, where he teaches a class in pretrial litigation to second- and third-year students.

Judge Janes is married and has three grown children.

 

Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick, III

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Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick, III

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Tenth Judicial Circuit (Raleigh County)

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Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick III is a native of Beckley and grew up in the coalfields of Fayette and Raleigh Counties. He is a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School, a 1973 graduate of the University of Kentucky, and 1976 graduate of West Virginia University College of Law.

He practiced law in Wyoming and Raleigh Counties for more than twenty years until he was appointed to the bench in the Tenth Judicial Circuit (Raleigh County) in 1995 by then-Governor Gaston Caperton. Judge Kirkpatrick was elected in 1996 and re-elected in 2000, 2008, and 2016. During his time in private practice, he was with the law firm of Bailey, Worrell and Viars in Pineville, beginning in 1976; in a solo practice in Pineville from 1979 to 1985; and at Ashworth & Kirkpatrick from 1985 to 1995.

Judge Kirkpatrick is a two-term member of the Judicial Investigation Commission and has served as vice-chairman of the Judicial Realignment Committee of the West Virginia Judicial Association. He currently is vice-chairman of the Judicial Education Committee of the Judicial Association and chairman of the Region Three Fatality Review Team. He helped organize in Beckley the first LAWS (Legal Advancement for West Virginia Students) program, in which the Supreme Court hears an argument docket in front of local high school students at a county courthouse. He also hosted a Media and the Courts conference in Beckley.

Judge Kirkpatrick was named Outstanding Young Man of West Virginia, President of the Pineville Lions Club, President of the Central Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, and received the Distinguished Service Award form Wyoming County Jaycees, all in 1983. He was a member of the Common Council, Town of Pineville, from 1982 to 1985. He was President of the Beckley Lions Club in 1988. He was an instructor at Beckley College’s Paralegal Department from 1988-1991, a member of the Board of Trustees of Beckley College from 1988 to 1990, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Beckley College and the College of West Virginia from 1990 to 1995. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of Raleigh in 1995.

He and his wife, the former Rebecca Nicewonder, have twin sons.

 

Judge Edward J. Kornish

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Judge Edward J. Kornish

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Eighth Judicial Circuit (McDowell County)

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Judge Edward J. Kornish was appointed to the bench in the Eighth Judicial Circuit (McDowell County) on April 24, 2019, to fill the seat vacated by the May 31, 2019, retirement of Judge Booker Stephens. He was sworn in June 24, 2019.

Judge Kornish grew up in Bluefield and Welch and graduated from Welch High School in 1974. He has a 1978 bachelor’s degree in National Security and Military Affairs from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He retired from the U.S. Army and West Virginia National Guard in 2008 after 30 years of combined service on active and reserve duty, having attained the rank of Colonel. He deployed to the Middle East, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

While stationed in the Seattle area, Judge Kornish earned his law degree from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, in 1989. He had internships with the Washington State Court of Appeals Division II and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Springfield, Illinois. He worked at a Springfield, Illinois, law firm for almost a year then returned to McDowell County. Between May 1990 and December 2012 he served as a McDowell County Assistant Public Defender for 18 months, a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia for 17 months, and an Assistant McDowell County Prosecutor for just over 19 years. He was McDowell County Prosecuting Attorney from January 2013 until he was appointed to the bench.

Judge Kornish has been admitted to practice law in West Virginia and Illinois, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Judge Kornish was a member of the West Virginians Against Violence Committee, and is a member of American Legion Post 8, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1144. He is a board member and treasurer of the McDowell County Museum Commission and a member and trustee of the Welch Church of God. He is a former board member and president of Stop the Hurt Inc., McDowell County’s Child Advocacy Center. He is a former chairman of the McDowell County Multidisciplinary Team for Child Sexual Assault Cases and a former director of the McDowell County STOP Violence Against Women Team and the McDowell County Violence Against Women Act Program. He is a former member of the State Child Fatality Review Team and the State Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team and a former grader of the West Virginia State Bar Exam.

Judge Kornish’s late mother, Emily Yeager, was a longtime member of the House of Delegates. He and his wife, Angel, live in Welch and have four adult children.

 

Judge Michael D. Lorensen

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Judge Michael D. Lorensen

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Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit (Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties)

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Judge Lorensen is a native of Morgantown. He has a 1981 bachelor’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University and a 1984 law degree from West Virginia University College of law.

He worked three years as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Charles Haden in the Southern District of West Virginia before practicing law for twenty-five years in Martinsburg at the firm Bowles Rice. His practice focused on civil litigation, although he also did criminal law and for seven years was a member of the panel of court-appointed attorneys in federal courts.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed him to the Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit (Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties) in 2012 and he was elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2016. He was a member of Governor Tomblin’s 2014 West Virginia Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice He was a member of the Judicial Hearing Board, a member of the local rules committee for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, and a former member of the board of the West Virginia Board of Law Examiners. He formerly served thirteen years on the Shenandoah Community Health Control Board of Directors, including two years as President of the Board.

Judge Lorensen and his wife, Maria, have two children.

 

Judge James A. Matish

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Judge James A. Matish

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Fifteenth Judicial Circuit (Harrison County

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Judge Matish is a native of Owings, Harrison County, and graduated from Shinnston High School. He has a 1975 bachelor’s degree in business administration (magna cum laude) from West Virginia University and a 1978 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.

He had a general law practice in Clarksburg from 1978 to 2000, concentrating in criminal defense work, civic litigation, family law, real estate, and bankruptcy.

He was elected to the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit (Harrison County) in 2000 and re-elected in 2008 and 2016. He has been appointed several times to sit on the Supreme Court when a Justice has been recused from a case.

He is a member of the West Virginia Judicial Association, West Virginia State Bar, and the Harrison County Bar Association. He is past president and vice president of the Harrison County Bar Association, and a founder and past president of the West Virginia Society for Criminal Justice. He has taught at Salem International University and numerous continuing legal education classes at West Virginia University College of Law and at other locations in the state for lawyers, law enforcement personnel, and magistrates. He has served as a judge for the WVU College of Law Moot Court Board.

He and his wife, Peggy, have one daughter.

 

Judge Christopher McCarthy

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Judge Christopher McCarthy

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Fifteenth Judicial Circuit (Harrison County)

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Judge McCarthy is a native of Harrison County and received his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1991 from the University of Dayton. In 1994, he obtained his J.D. from the West Virginia University College of Law.

After graduation, Judge McCarthy practiced law in Columbus, Ohio, and Martinsburg, West Virginia. In 1999, he co-founded the law firm Booth & McCarthy, which maintained offices in Bridgeport, West Virginia, and Winchester, Virginia. Judge McCarthy’s practice concentrated on contract enforcement, bankruptcy disputes, commercial/consumer creditors rights, and other civil matters. Prior to taking the bench, he also served as Municipal Court Judge for the City of Bridgeport.

Judge McCarthy was elected to the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit (Harrison County) bench in May 2016, in the first nonpartisan judicial election. Currently, he oversees the Harrison County Adult Drug Court as well as the Courthouse Improvement Board. In 2019, he helped established the Harrison County Veterans Treatment Court and is its presiding judge.

Between 2000 and 2014, Judge McCarthy served on the Bridgeport Police Civil Service Commission, acting as the Commission’s president for six years. In 2011, he became a trustee of the Barbara B. Highland Charitable Lead Trust. In 2014, he was appointed to the West Virginia Central Transit Authority (CENTRA) Board of Directors and served as secretary/treasurer. Between 2011 and 2014, he was a volunteer judge for The American Legion Mountaineer Boys State Moot Court Competition. Judge McCarthy was also nominated as the Treasurer of the Harrison County Bar Association for four years.

Judge McCarthy and his wife, Meredith, have four children.

 

Judge Debra McLaughlin

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Judge Debra McLaughlin

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Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit (Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson Counties)

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Judge Debra McLaughlin was raised in Manassas, Virginia. She has been a resident of Morgan County from 1999 until 2019 where she practiced law and raised a family. In 2019, she relocated to Berkeley County to accommodate her 16-year-old’s education in the dual enrollment program between Shepherd University and St. Maria Goretti High School.

She has a 1990 bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in criminal justice and psychology from St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, where she was an Honors Program graduate. She has a 1993 law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law.

Judge McLaughlin was an associate at the law firm of Bochetto & Lentz and later a Katherman & Heim from 1994 to 1999. In 1999, she joined the firm of Harmison & Savasten in Berkeley Springs. Shortly thereafter, she became a part-time assistant prosecutor for Morgan County. In 2002, she was appointed to the office of Morgan County Prosecuting Attorney; she was elected to the position in 2004 and re-elected in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Governor Jim Justice appointed her to the bench in the Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit (Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson Counties) in August 2017 and she served until May 2018. He appointed her again in March 2019. Between May 2018 and November 2018 she was a solo practitioner practicing in criminal defense and abuse and neglect. Between December 2018 and March 2019 she was an assistant Jefferson County prosecutor.

Judge McLaughlin and her family are active members of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, where she served on the Finance Council for 10 years. She served as the President of the Morgan County Soccer League from 2004 till 2014 and coached one to two teams per season. She volunteered as an Assistant Coach for the Berkeley Springs High School Lady Indian’s Soccer team during the fall 2017 season. She served on CASA Board of Directors from June 2018 till March 2019. She volunteers her time in the community through the Morgan County Partnership. She helped develop and grow Teen Court in Morgan County which was a model program for the neighboring counties.

She and her husband Kevin have three children (two of which are no longer children).

 

Judge Rudolph J. Murensky, II

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Judge Rudolph J. Murensky, II

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Eighth Judicial Circuit (McDowell County)

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Judge Murensky was born and raised in Welch, West Virginia. He is the son of the late Circuit Judge Rudolph Murensky and Hazel T. Murensky and has one sister, Susan Murensky, who also is an attorney. He graduated from Concord College magna cum laude in 1975 with a double major in history and political science. He has a 1978 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.

Judge Murensky practiced law in Welch from 1978 to 2000. He served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1980-1992; he was Majority Leader from 1987 to 1990 and Finance Committee Chairman from 1991 to 1992.

He was elected to the bench in the Eighth Judicial Circuit (McDowell County) in 2000 and re-elected in 2008 and 2016.

He was a member of the Judicial Hearing Board for nine years and served as its chairman and vice-chairman. He has been active in the Robes to Schools civic education program and is a member of the West Virginia Judicial Association.

He received the McDowell County Liberty Bell Award in 2012.

He and his wife, Sandra, have two children and seven grandchildren.

 

Judge Shawn David Nines

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Judge Shawn David Nines

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Nineteenth Judicial Circuit (Barbour and Taylor Counties)

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Judge Shawn David Nines took the bench in the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit (Barbour and Taylor Counties) on January 2, 2019. Governor Jim Justice appointed Nines on December 11, 2018, to the new judicial position created in the 2018 legislative session.

Before his appointment, Judge Nines had been an attorney with his own law practice in Grafton since 2007. He also has served as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in either Taylor or Barbour County from 2007 until his appointment. He previously was City Attorney for Grafton, a lawyer for Huddleston Bolen LLP., and was a law clerk for Judge Moats from 2003 to 2005. He is a registered Patent Attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Judge Nines has a 1998 bachelor’s degree and a 2000 master’s degree in Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering from West Virginia University and a 2003 law degree from the University of Akron Law School.

While he was in private practice, he was assistant football and strength training coach at Grafton High School and play-by-play broadcaster for Grafton High School football games on WGYE Radio and its affiliated stations.

He and his wife, Donette, live in Thornton have young twins.

 

Judge Stacy Nowicki-Eldridge

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Judge Stacy Nowicki-Eldridge

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Twenty-Fifth Judicial Circuit (Boone and Lincoln Counties)

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Stacy L. Nowicki-Eldridge was appointed to the bench in the Twenty-Fifth Judicial Circuit (Boone and Lincoln Counties) by Governor Jim Justice and was sworn into office on December 3, 2021.

Judge Nowicki-Eldridge graduated in 1996 from West Virginia University and in 1999 from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Before her appointment, she practiced law in West Virginia for 20 years, mostly as an Assistant Attorney General for the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office and General Counsel for the West Virginia Division of Corrections. She was Deputy General Counsel for the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security at the time of her appointment to the bench. She has also served as a judicial clerk, an assistant prosecuting attorney, and an assistant public defender.

Judge Nowicki-Eldridge has coached little league soccer and has been a volunteer with the Girl Scouts of America.

She and her family live in Lincoln County.

 

Judge Michael J. Olejasz

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Judge Michael J. Olejasz

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First Judicial Circuit (Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio Counties)

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Judge Michael J. Olejasz took office in the First Judicial Circuit (Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio Counties) on December 19, 2018, after being appointed by Governor Jim Justice on November 28, 2018.

A native of Wheeling, he has a 1995 bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from West Liberty University, where he received the Criminal Justice Faculty’s Criminal Justice Award. He has a 2002 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law. As a law student he had an externship (2001) with U.S. District Court Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr.

Before his appointment to the bench, Judge Olejasz had been an assistant Ohio County Prosecuting Attorney for ten years. He previously was managing partner of the Wheeling law firm Ferro & Olejasz from 2003 to 2009. He has served on the Executive Committee of the Ohio County Bar Association and on the Wheeling Police Civil Service Commission. Before attending law school, he was a Wheeling police officer from 1994 to 1998. He was the valedictorian of his West Virginia State Police Academy class.

He has been a Board Member of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a Member of the Lewis Wetzel Rifle and Pistol Club, a Life Member of the Wheeling Symphony Auxiliary, a Member and Trustee of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 38, and a Member of the West Virginia Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Executive Committee.

He and his wife, Roberta Robinson Olejasz, have two children.

 

Judge Darl W. Poling

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Judge Darl W. Poling

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Tenth Judicial Circuit (Raleigh County)

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Judge Poling was appointed to a seat in the Tenth Judicial Circuit on March 18, 2019, by Governor Jim Justice. He replaced John Hutchison, whom Governor Justice appointed to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

He is a lifelong resident of Beckley, Raleigh County. He is a 1980 graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School, where he was the Senior Class President. He graduated from West Virginia University in May 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and he graduated from the West Virginia University College of Law, where he was a member of the Moot Court Board, in May 1988.

Judge Poling began his legal career in Beckley with the law firm of Abrams, Byron, Henderson & Richmond. Judge Poling served as a Public Defender for the Public Defender Corporation for the Tenth Judicial Circuit before forming the law firm of Canterbury, Poling & Roop in 1990. For 23 years prior to his appointment to the bench, he operated Poling Law Offices in Beckley.

He also served as City Councilman for the City of Beckley from 1991 until 1995, when he was appointed Municipal Court Judge for the City of Beckley, a position he held until his appointment to the circuit court bench.

Judge Poling has been active in numerous civic organizations. He is board member of Hospice of Southern West Virginia and Beckley Babe Ruth Baseball. He has been a coach in local sports, having coached basketball and baseball including Little League Baseball, Babe Ruth Baseball, YMCA basketball, AAU basketball, USSSA basketball and baseball, as well as travel baseball and travel basketball. Judge Poling also served as a High School baseball umpire through the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission for eight years and was selected to umpire the West Virginia State Baseball Tournament in 2017.

He is married to his high school sweetheart, Cindy Orren Poling, who has been a teacher in Raleigh County Schools for more than thirty years. They have one son, Sean.

 

Judge R. Steven Redding

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Judge R. Steven Redding
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Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit (Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties)

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Judge Redding is a native of New Carrollton, Md. He has a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland and a law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law, where he graduated with honors and was a member of the Law Review.

On Feb. 22, 2018, Governor Jim Justice appointed him to the bench in the Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit (Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan Counties) and he was elected to the seat in May 2018.

Judge Redding attended law school at night while starting his family and working full-time on the Prince George’s County, Md., Fire Department. After he became a lawyer, he continued to work at the fire department as an attorney and firefighter until ending his firefighting career, in 1997, as a Lieutenant. He then served as an active member of the South Berkeley Volunteer Fire Department until the end of 2022. He was awarded a Medal of Valor for rescuing a small child from an apartment fire.

Judge Redding entered private practice in 1990 and concentrated on insurance and medical malpractice defense law before becoming a partner at Franklin & Prokopik, PC., managing the firm’s Hagerstown office. He took four years off from the practice of law to recover from injuries sustained in a serious car accident. He returned to work part-time in 2011 as a guardian ad litem, representing children in abuse and neglect cases, and returned to full time practice in 2013, continuing his representation of children, as well as practicing criminal defense. In February, 2017, Judge Redding joined the Public Defender Corporation for the Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit, where he worked until his appointment to the bench.

He has coached high school and AAU basketball for a number of years in the Eastern Panhandle. He and his wife, Kristie Tobin Redding, live in Hedgesville. They have six adult children, nine grandchildren, and also unofficially “adopted” one of his basketball players, caring for him from the 6th grade until he left for college in 2015.

 

Judge Joseph K. Reeder

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Judge Joseph K. Reeder

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Twenty-Ninth Judicial Circuit (Putnam County)

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Judge Reeder was born in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He is a graduate of the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics (Accounting) in 1987. He received his legal education at the West Virginia University College of Law. Judge Reeder graduated from law school with honors, as a member of the Order of the Coif, in May 1991. While in law school, he was active in the Lugar Trial Association and Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity.

Following law school, Judge Reeder practiced law as an associate and then partner in several Charleston law firms. In 2003, he founded his own firm in Hurricane, West Virginia, where he practiced until his election to the bench in November 2012. He was re-elected in 2016.

As judge, he has been particularly concerned with drug abuse issues and their effect on the community. He started the Putnam County Adult Drug Court and has been the presiding judge in that court since it was founded. As a lawyer, Judge Reeder tried numerous cases and represented both individual and business clients in state and federal courts throughout West Virginia.

He is a member of the American Bar Association Judicial Division and a member of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

Judge Reeder is a member of the Pine Grove Church of Christ. He also is active as a leader of Troop 17 of the Boy Scouts of America and served as Membership Chairman (2014-2015) for the Pioneer District. He is a member of the Scott Teays Lions Club and was a Charter Member of the Putnam County Kiwanis Club. He was also instrumental in starting a BSA Legal Explorers Club in Putnam County for young people who may be interested in pursuing a career in the legal profession.

Judge Reeder resides in Hurricane with his wife, Linda, a Putnam County teacher, and their two sons.

 

Judge Jacob E. Reger

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Judge Jacob E. Reger

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Twenty-Sixth Judicial Circuit (Lewis and Upshur Counties)

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Judge Reger was born and raised in Buckhannon. He graduated from Buckhannon-Upshur High School in 1978. He graduated from West Virginia University in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and from West Virginia College of Law in 1992.

Judge Reger was engaged in the general practice of law from 1992 to 1998 and from 2002 to 2004, both in his own practice and with the law firm of Coleman and Wallace. He served as Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Upshur County from 1993 to 1998. He was an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Kanawha County and served as the Director of the Fraud and Investigations Unit for the Bureau of Employment Programs from 1998 to 2002. He was elected Prosecuting Attorney for Upshur County in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Judge Reger served on the Board of Directors of the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorney’s Association and served as President of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association from 2013 to 2014.

He was elected Judge for the Twenty-Sixth Judicial Circuit (Upshur and Lewis Counties) in 2014 and re-elected in 2016.

Judge Reger is a member of First United Methodist Church in Buckhannon, where he has served on the Board of Trustees, Administrative Board, and as Chairman of the Staff Parrish Relations Committee. He has served on the Board of Directors of a number of community service organizations, including the Upshur County Senior Center, United Way, Literacy Volunteers, and the Child Development Center.

He and his wife, Beverly, live in Upshur County.

 

Judge Robert E. Richardson

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Judge Robert E. Richardson

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Eleventh Judicial Circuit (Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties)

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Judge Richardson grew up in Lewisburg and graduated from Greenbrier East High School in 1980. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from West Virginia University in 1984. While a student at WVU, he was the University’s first recipient of the Truman Scholarship (a national award presented to recognize leadership potential in public service), and also served as the WVU Mountaineer mascot during the 1982-83 academic year. Judge Richardson attended law school at the University of Virginia School of Law (J.D., 1987), where he was an editor of the Virginia Law Review, and at the Georgetown University Law Center (LL.M. , 1989).

Judge Richardson began his legal career with the Institute for Public Representation in Washington, D.C., where he worked primarily on matters concerning the civil rights of persons with disabilities. While in that position, he served as an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. He returned to West Virginia in 1990 to work with West Virginia Legal Services Plan (now Legal Aid of West Virginia) as the managing attorney of its Clarksburg office and also taught part-time as an adjunct faculty member at the West Virginia University College of Law. After a decade of public interest legal work, he returned to his hometown of Lewisburg in 1997 to pursue the private practice of law and opened his own firm in 2000. Judge Richardson was appointed to the bench in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit (Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties) by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin on May 21, 2014. He was then elected to the bench in 2016.

His community service includes work on the boards of directors of several local and statewide organizations, including Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity, Habitat for Humanity of West Virginia, Legal Aid of West Virginia, the Greenbrier Youth Camp, and HospiceCare. For twenty-five years, he served as the director of the West Virginia Older 4-H Members Conference, a weeklong leadership development program for high school and college age youth, and he has been inducted into the West Virginia 4-H Hall of Fame.

He and his wife, Susan, live in Greenbrier County.

 

Judge Robert E. Ryan

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Judge Robert E. Ryan

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Twenty-First Judicial Circuit (Grant, Mineral, and Tucker Counties)

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Judge Ryan was sworn in as a judge in the Twenty-First Judicial Circuit (Grant, Mineral, and Tucker Counties) on July 26, 2023.

Governor Jim Justice appointed Mr. Ryan to fill the vacancy left by the June 30, 2023, retirement of Judge Lynn A. Nelson.

Judge Ryan earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from West Virginia University in 1996 and earned his law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law in 2000. He is admitted to practice law in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, two United States Courts of Appeals, and five United States district courts.

He is a former member of the Defense Trial Counsel of West Virginia, the West Virginia Association of Justice, the Defense Research Institute, the National Association of Railroad Trial Counsel, and several bar associations. He was repeatedly recognized as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers and by Best Lawyers in America, being named as Lawyer of the Year in Railroad Law in 2019.

In his spare time, he is a Tenured Level 4 On-Ice Official and officiates ice hockey for teams sanctioned by USA Hockey and the American Collegiate Hockey Association. He has previously served as a seminar instructor and as state supervisor for USA Hockey. He is an Eagle Scout and an avid backpacker and hiker. His favorite hiking spot in West Virginia is Chimney Top on North Fork Mountain in Grant County.

Judge Ryan’s ancestry runs deep in the Twenty-First Circuit. His great-great-great-grandfather, Solomon W. Cosner, was the first permanent settler of Canaan Valley. His great-great-great-uncle, Ernst Muntzing, was the first clerk of court for the newly formed Grant County in 1866. His great-uncle, Gus Muntzing, served as judge in Hardy, Hampshire, and Pendleton Counties. His great-grandfather, William H. Muntzing, served as sheriff of Grant County.

Judge Ryan has served multiple terms as a member of the Maysville Cemetery, Inc., Board of Directors. He resides on and manages the cattle and hay farms established by William H. Muntzing in Maysville more than 100 years ago.

 

Judge William J. Sadler

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Judge William J. Sadler

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Ninth Judicial Circuit (Mercer County)

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Judge Sadler is a lifelong resident of Mercer County and graduated from Bluefield High School. He graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia University College of Business and Economics in 1985 and graduated in 1988 from West Virginia University College of Law.

He practiced law in Princeton from 1988 to 1998. He was the elected Mercer County prosecutor from 1998 to 2006 when he was appointed by then-Governor Joe Manchin to the bench in the Ninth Judicial Circuit (Mercer County). Judge Sadler took office January 1, 2007, and was elected to the seat in 2008 and re-elected in 2016.

He is a member of the Judicial Association; a past member of the National District Attorneys’ Association; and is a past member, past board member, and past president of the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys’ Association.

Judge Sadler has attended courses at the National College of Advocacy in Columbia, South Carolina, and at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada.

He is a member of Delta Theta Phi, Beta Alpha Psi, and Beta Gamma Sigma.

He and his wife, Barbara, have two daughters.

 

Judge Tera L. Salango

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Judge Tera L. Salango

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Thirteenth Judicial Circuit (Kanawha County)

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Judge Tera L. Salango was elected on November 6, 2018, to the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to fill the unexpired term of Judge James C. Stucky, who retired. She took office on November 16, 2018

Judge Salango is a native of Nitro, West Virginia, and has a 1999 bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from West Virginia State University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and was recognized for earning the highest grade-point average in her major. In 2003, Judge Salango graduated in the top 20 percent of her class from West Virginia University College of Law, where she was a member of the Order of the Barristers and a finalist in the WVU Mock Trial Competition. She also received the Best Brief Award in the Baker Cup appellate advocacy competition.

Upon graduation, Judge Salango worked for the law firm of Spilman, Thomas & Battle and focused primarily on defense litigation. In 2005, she joined the Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney's office and spent more than a decade handling a wide range of cases including violent felonies, misdemeanors, and juvenile matters.

In late 2016, Judge Salango joined her husband's civil litigation law firm, Preston and Salango, where she handled a wide range of civil cases.

In August 2018, Judge Salango received the Lawyers and Leaders Award from West Virginia University College of Law and West Virginia Executive Magazine recognizing her distinguished legal career. She was previously recognized as a Generation Next: 40 Under 40 professional by The State Journal.

Judge Salango lives in Charleston with her husband, Ben, and two sons. She is active in the Charleston community, having served on numerous boards that focus on helping children.

 

Judge Cindy Scott

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Judge Cindy Scott

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Seventeenth Judicial Circuit (Monongalia County)

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Judge Cindy Scott was elected on June 9, 2020, to the bench in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit (Monongalia County, Division 2), to fill the unexpired term of Judge Russell M. Clawges, Jr., who retired. Upon taking the oath of office on June 29, 2020, Judge Scott assumed the role of Chief Judge for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit and will continue serving in that capacity until December 31, 2021.

Judge Scott is a native of Morgantown, West Virginia and graduated from Morgantown High School in 1982. She received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration-Marketing from West Virginia University in 1986, and after a brief career in banking, she returned to school and received a law degree from West Virginia University College of Law in 1994.

Judge Scott began her legal career by engaging in the general practice of law for 12 years, focusing on the representation of defendants in misdemeanor and felony criminal cases and respondents in child abuse and neglect cases, while also serving as a Guardian Ad Litem in child abuse and neglect cases, practicing in Family Court and engaging in Civil Litigation.

From 2006 to 2016, Judge Scott served as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney with the Monongalia County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and in 2016, she joined WVU’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Office of Equity Assurance, where she addressed discrimination, harassment, and intimate partner violence involving WVU’s faculty, staff and students while leading the Prevention and Education Team and reviewing Title IX Case Investigations.

Judge Scott serves as the Judge for the Monongalia County Adult Drug Court, and previously served on the Monongalia County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), the Monongalia/Preston Counties Violence Against Women Act - STOP Team, the Human Rights Committee for the Monongalia County Youth Services Center, and she worked directly with the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program (CASA).

She and her husband, Todd, live in Morgantown and have two adult children. They regularly attend Kingdom: A Community Church.

 

Judge Steven L. Shaffer

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Judge Steven L. Shaffer

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Eighteenth Judicial Circuit (Preston County)

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Steven L. Shaffer was sworn in as a Judge in the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit (Preston County) on May 18, 2018, and began work May 29.

Judge Shaffer was elected to fill the remainder of the term of Judge Lawrance Miller, who retired in 2017. The term ends in 2025.

He is a resident of Tunnelton and a graduate of Tunnelton High School. He spent 23 years in construction and as a coal miner before attending college and law school. He graduated from the West Virginia University College of Law in 2003. He worked for then-Preston County Prosecutor Ron Brown before entering private practice.

 

Judge David J. Sims

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Judge David J. Sims

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First Judicial Circuit (Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio Counties)

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Judge Sims was born in Wheeling in 1961 and graduated from The Linsly School in 1979. He has a 1983 degree in history from Georgetown University and a 1987 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.

He was an Ohio County Commissioner from 1995 to 2012 and the owner of Sims Law Offices in Wheeling from 1987 to 2012, where he focused on real estate and litigation, before being appointed to the bench in the First Judicial Circuit (Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio Counties) by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in 2012. He ran and won the seat in 2014 and was re-elected in 2016.

He is a member of the West Virginia Judicial Association.

Judge Sims and his wife, Lisa, have two children.

 

Judge Phillip M. Stowers

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Judge Phillip M. Stowers

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Twenty-Ninth Judicial Circuit (Putnam County)

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Judge Stowers was born in Charleston and raised in Alkol, West Virginia. He graduated from Duval high School in 1978. He attended Morehead State University on a four-year Presidential Scholarship and graduated magna cum laude in 1982 with dual bachelor’s degrees in speech communication and business administration with an emphasis on economics. He has a 1986 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law where he was a member of the College of Law Moot Court Board and won the prestigious Baker Cup Award for appellate advocacy in 1985. He also was a member of the West Virginia Law Review and authored Wainwright v. Witt: A New Standard for Death-Qualifying a Capital Jury, 88 W. Va. L. Rev. 133 (1985).

He began his legal career as an associate for Huddleston & Bolen in Huntington. In 1989, he moved to Charleston and continued in private practice. In 1991 he formed Stowers & Associates Attorneys at Law and primarily engaged in civil litigation there until 2008. He has served as a special assistant to the West Virginia Attorney General and as counsel to the West Virginia State Senate.

In 2008 he was elected to the bench in the Twenty-Ninth Judicial Circuit (Putnam County) and re-elected in 2016. He has been appointed several times to sit on the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia to hear cases in which a Justice was recused. He is the Chairman of the Juvenile Justice Commission. He also presides over the Putnam County Juvenile Drug Court, the first drug court in Putnam County, and Truancy Triage, a county truancy diversion program.

He is the current President of the West Virginia Judicial Association and also serves as a member of the National Association of Drug Court Judges and the West Virginia Commission to Study the Residential Placement of Children.

He and his wife, Terri, have one son.

 

Judge Timothy L. Sweeney

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Judge Timothy L. Sweeney

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Third Judicial Circuit (Doddridge, Pleasants, and Ritchie Counties)

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Judge Sweeney was raised in Pleasants County and graduated from St. Mary's High school in 1974. He was a 1978 bachelor’s degree in business administration from West Virginia University and a 1981 law degree from West Virginia University College of law.

He spent thirty years in private practice with law firms that include White & Sweeney, Sweeney & Ballard, the Sweeney Law Firm, and as general counsel for Pleasants County Bank. He was the elected prosecutor of Pleasants County from 1985 to 2010.

In December 2010 Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed him to the bench in the Third Judicial Circuit (Doddridge, Pleasants and Ritchie Counties). He was elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016.

He is a member of the West Virginia Judicial Association. He is a former president of the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Association and a former member of the West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and the National College of District Attorneys.

Judges Sweeney is president of the Pleasants County Library Board and volunteers with several other community organizations.

He and his wife, Charlene, have four children.

 

Judge Richard Craig Tatterson

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Judge Richard Craig Tatterson

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Fifth Judicial Circuit (Calhoun, Jackson, Mason, Roane Counties)

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Judge Tatterson is a native of Point Pleasant. He has a 1995 bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from West Virginia University and a 1998 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.

He was elected in May 2016 to seat in the Fifth Judicial Circuit (Calhoun, Jackson, Mason and Roane Counties). His term began January 1, 2017.

He previously was the elected Mason County Prosecutor for four years and helped establish the Mason County Drug Court. He was a partner in Shew & Tatterson, L.C. from 1998 to 2012. He also served as an assistant professor at Marshall University’s Mid-Ohio Valley Center.

He is a member of the Mason County Community Corrections Board, has been a teen court judge, and has assisted in Mason County Law Day. He is former president of the Point Pleasant Rotary and has coached numerous youth sports teams.

He and his wife, Jill, have two children.

 

Judge Miki J. Thompson

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Judge Miki J. Thompson

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Thirtieth Judicial Circuit (Mingo County)

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Judge Thompson is a native of Floyd County, Kentucky. She graduated from Wheelwright High School and has a 1975 bachelor’s degree in communications and a 1992 law degree, both from the University of Kentucky.

Judge Thompson began her career as assistant prosecuting attorney in Mingo County in 1992. She also ran her own law practice, Thompson Law Office, until 2008.

She was elected family court judge in the Eighth Family Court Circuit (Mingo County) in 2008 and was appointed circuit judge for the Thirtieth Judicial Circuit (Mingo County) in 2014 by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Judge Thompson had won the 2014 primary for the circuit judge position before being appointed by Governor Tomblin and she went on to win the 2014 election and was re-elected in 2016.

She is a member of the West Virginia Judicial Association.

She and her husband, West Virginia native Gary Thompson, have two daughters (one of whom is deceased), and one granddaughter.

 

Judge Robert A. Waters

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Judge Robert A. Waters

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Fourth Judicial Circuit (Wirt and Wood Counties)

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Judge Waters was born and raised in Parkersburg. He graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1973 and has a 1976 bachelor’s degree in government and economics from West Virginia Wesleyan College and a 1979 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law, where he was a member of the West Virginia Law Review and won the AmJur Award in Criminal Law.

He was in private practice in Parkersburg from 1979 to 1992 and was an assistant Wood County prosecutor from 1979 to 1982 and from 1989 to 1992.

He was elected to the bench in the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Wood and Wirt Counties) in 1992 and re-elected in 2000, 2008, and 2016.

Judge Waters is a member of the West Virginia Judicial Association and the West Virginia Bar Association. He also attended the National Judicial College at the University of Nevada in Reno and received a Diploma of Judicial Skills from the American Judges Association.

He is a past president of the Henry Logan Children’s Home and a longtime member of the Rotary and Boy Scouts.

He and his wife, Robin, have three children.

 

Judge Jason Wharton

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Judge Jason Wharton

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Fourth Judicial Circuit (Wirt and Wood Counties)

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Judge Wharton is a lifelong resident of Wood County. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from West Virginia University and a law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law.

Judge Wharton was elected in May 2016 in the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Wirt and Wood Counties). He took office on January 1, 2017.

Wharton currently serves as the Chief Judge of the 4th Judicial Circuit.  He presides over both the Mid-Ohio Valley Adult Drug Court and the Wood County Family Treatment Court. Judge Wharton serves on the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission and Mass Litigation Panel.

He previously was the elected Wood County Prosecuting Attorney for eight years and before that was an assistant prosecutor for ten years. He was cross-designated as a special assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia. Prior to joining the Wood County Prosecutor’s Office, he worked for the law firm Albright, Bradley and Ellison.

Judge Wharton served as a board member of the Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley and United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley. He was a board member and past president of the West Virginia University at Parkersburg Foundation and a member and past chairman of the West Virginia State Bar Young Lawyer’s Executive Committee.  Judge Wharton is a member of the Parkersburg Lions Club.

He and his wife, Heidi Starn Wharton, live in Vienna with their two children.

 

Judge C. Carter Williams

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Judge C. Carter Williams

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Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit (Hampshire, Hardy, and Pendleton Counties)

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Judge Williams is a native of Hardy County. He has a 1988 bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University, and a 1991 law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law.

He was elected to the bench in the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit (Hampshire, Hardy, and Pendleton Counties) in May 2016, and took office on January 1, 2017.

From 1999 through 2016 he was as an Assistant Attorney General with the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, where he served as state-wide legal counsel for the Adult Protective Services Division of the Department of Health and Human Resources, and regional legal counsel for the Bureau for Children and Families in fifteen counties including the Eastern Panhandle.

Judge Williams was a member of the Court Improvement Program Oversight Board for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals from 2009 through 2012. At the time of his election he also was also a member of the West Virginia Financial Exploitation Task Force, and the West Virginia Working Interdisciplinary Network of Guardianship Stakeholders. He is a member of the West Virginia Judicial Association.

Judge Williams was an associate attorney at the law firm of Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love from 1991 to 1993, before becoming an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Hampshire County where he served until 1995. He was also employed as an associate with Geary & Geary, LC, from 1995 until becoming an Assistant Attorney General. Judge Williams has been a middle school football coach and an EMT in his community.

Judge Williams resides in Old Fields with his wife, Tona, and two children, where they are members of Believers Victory Center Church.

 

Judge Mark Wills

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Judge Mark Wills

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Ninth Judicial Circuit (Mercer County)

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Judge Mark Wills was elected on May 10, 2016, to a Ninth Judicial Circuit (Mercer County) term that begins January 1, 2017. On May 19, 2016, Governor Ear Ray Tomblin appointed him to the seat to serve the remainder of the term of Judge Omar Aboulhosn, who resigned earlier in the year to become a federal magistrate.

At the time of his election, Judge Wills had been practicing law at Wills Law Office in Princeton, a solo general practice, for eighteen years.

A native of Princeton, he has a 1977 bachelor’s degree in political science from Concord University and a 1981 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.

He is the former chief operating officer of Taggart Global, LLC China, and negotiated contracts between American and Chinese coal interests from 2006 to 2008. He also was a partner in the law firms of Wills and Sadler; Wills, Kilgore and Sadler; and Bayless and Wills.

Judge Wills served in the West Virginia Senate from 2010 to 2012 and in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1999 to 2002.

He has been a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board since 1994 and the chairman since 2013. He has been on the board of the Princeton Community Hospital since 2006.

He and his wife, Revonda Leigh Wills, have four children and two grandchildren.

 

Judge David H. Wilmoth

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Judge David H. Wilmoth

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Twentieth Judicial Circuit (Randolph County)

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Judge Wilmoth is a native of Elkins and graduated from Elkins High School in 1983. He has a 1988 bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Marshall University and a 1991 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.

He began his legal career in 1992 as an associate attorney at Jory & Smith L.C. In 1997, he started his own law firm, David H. Wilmoth LC, in Elkins.

He also served as the Randolph County fiduciary commissioner for ten years (2004-2015) and as the mental hygiene commissioner for Randolph County from 1996 to 2015 and Tucker County from 2010 to 2015. He worked as a discovery commissioner for the Randolph County circuit court and as a special commissioner for Barbour, Randolph and Upshur County circuit courts.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed him to the bench in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit (Randolph County) in February 2015. He won the election in 2016.

He is a member of the West Virginia Judicial Association.

He is a former member of the Randolph County Ambulance Authority Board, Randolph County Committee on Aging, Inc., and the Deputy Sheriff’s and Randolph County Correctional Officer Civil Service Commissions.

He and his wife, Kris, have one daughter.

 

Judge C. Richard Wilson

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Judge C. Richard "Rich" Wilson

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Second Judicial Circuit (Marshall, Tyler, and Wetzel)

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C. Richard "Rich" Wilson was sworn into office as a judge in the Second Judicial Circuit (Marshall, Tyler, and Wetzel Counties) on March 13, 2023.

Governor Jim Justice appointed him on February 1, 2023, to fill the seat vacated by the resignation of Judge David Hummel, Jr.

Judge Wilson is a lifelong resident of Marshall County who has a bachelor’s degree (1988) and law degree (1991) from West Virginia University. In his 30-year legal career, he was in private practice and served as a Marshall County Assistant Prosecutor, a fiduciary commissioner, and a mental hygiene commissioner.

He and his wife, Jill, live in Moundsville and have four children.

 

Judge Patrick N. Wilson

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Judge Patrick N. Wilson

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Sixteenth Judicial Circuit (Marion County)

Judge Patrick N. Wilson was born and raised in Marion County. He has a 1979 bachelor’s degree from Fairmont State College, now University. He is a 1985 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.

Then-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Judge Wilson to the bench in the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit (Marion County) on January 6, 2016, to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of former Circuit Court Judge Michael John Aloi, who became a federal magistrate. In May 2016 he was elected to a full eight-year term beginning January 1, 2017.

He began his law career in 1985 as an associate with Manchin, Aloi, and Carrick in Fairmont. Shortly after, he began serving in the Marion County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as the Chief Assistant Prosecutor. He also worked as a part-time professor at Fairmont State College, where he taught courses in criminal law/procedure, legal ethics/communication, adjudication, and argumentation and debate. In 1991, he became a partner at Wilson, Fucillo, and Shields, LLC, where he worked until 2004. In 2005, he was elected county prosecutor, a job he held until his appointment to the bench.

Judge Wilson has one adult son, Cody.

 

Judge Ronald E. Wilson

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Judge Ronald E. Wilson

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First Judicial Circuit (Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio Counties)

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Judge Ron Wilson is a graduate of Weir High School. He has a 1961 bachelor’s degree from American University and a 1965 law degree from the University of Maryland. In 1968 he was one of one hundred young lawyers to be awarded a U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellowship. After completing the educational portion of the program at the University of Michigan Law School, he was assigned to the Charleston Legal Aid program for one year and the Neighborhood Legal Services in Pittsburgh for two years.

In 1971 he joined the law firm of Jordon and Flowers in New Cumberland; that firm subsequently Jordan and Wilson. He served one term in the House of Delegates in 1971-72.

Then-Governor Jay Rockefeller appointed him to the bench in First Judicial Circuit (Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio Counties) in 1981. He was elected in 1982 and re-elected in 1984, 1992, 2000, 2008, and 2016.

Judge Wilson is chairperson of the Judicial Investigation Commission and has presided over all asbestos personal injury litigation in the State of West Virginia since 2003. He has served as president of the West Virginia Judicial Association and was chairman of the committees responsible for revising the West Virginia Judicial canons and updating the West Virginia Rules of Evidence.

He provided a civil law update for a number of years at the circuit judge’s educational conferences and has lectured on a variety of subjects – but with an emphasis on the rules of evidence – at those conferences. He also has taught evidence to West Virginia law clerks and Mental Hygiene Commissioners. Judge Wilson has taught courses for the West Virginia State Bar-WVU CLE programs, the West Virginia Association for Justice, and he has been an adjunct lecturer at West Liberty University and West Virginia Northern Community College. He also served on the Harvard Medical School, Department of Continuing Education faculty for its 2013 asbestos course.

In 2004, he was named a West Virginia Bar Foundation Fellow and in 2013 he was named Judge of the Year by the West Virginia Association for Justice. He has had articles published in the West Virginia Lawyer and his dissenting opinion in MacDonald v. City Hospital was published in full in the Advocate Magazine.

He married his wife Joyce in 1957 and they have four children.

 

Judge James H. Young, Jr.

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Judge James H. Young, Jr. 

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Twenty-Fourth Judicial Circuit (Wayne County)

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Judge Young is a native of Wayne. He graduated from Ceredo-Kenova High School in 1971, Marshall University in 1974, and West Virginia University College of Law in 1979.

He was a member of and partner in law firms in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Huntington, West Virginia. He served as the elected Wayne County prosecutor from 1997 to 2008, when then-Governor Joe Manchin III appointed him to a new judicial seat in the Twenty-Fourth Judicial Circuit (Wayne County). He took office January 1, 2009, and was elected to that position in 2010 and re-elected in 2016.

Judge Young is one of seven judges in the Business Court Division and is a member of the West Virginia Judicial Association. He has been appointed several times to sit on the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia in cases in which a Justice was recused.

He is married to the former Shonda Donahue and has two daughters.