Attorneys, law enforcement and members of the public gathered in Charles Town on Wednesday morning to see the swearing-in ceremony of Circuit Court judges in the Eastern Panhandle.
While the majority of them are returning to their positions, there were a few newcomers, as well. Judges Christopher Wilkes, Gray Silver III, John Yoder and Michael Lorensen all made the oath once again. Meanwhile, Bridget Cohee and Laura Faircloth, both longtime Eastern Panhandle attorneys, did it for the first time.
“It is completely life-changing,” Cohee said. “I do feel that everything in my life has brought me to this place, so it’s very exciting.”
“It’s my calling, and I just woke up one morning in January and said, ‘I think I want to do this,’” Faircloth added. “The people have honored me, and I hope I’m going to be able to serve them well.”
The 23rd Judicial Circuit Court of West Virginia now expands to six judges, overseeing cases in Jefferson, Berkeley and Morgan counties.
One member of this small group will not be returning – David Sanders, who has served for 24 years, decided to retire. However, he said the current judges have what it takes.
“The judge is the person that can make the courtroom a human place and a place where you can feel that there’s justice and compassion,” Sanders said.
These newly-elected Circuit Court judges said they’re ready to uphold those values.
“The judiciary was created by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution as the final barrier against tyranny,” Faircloth added. “The final defense of freedom.”
Both Faircloth and Cohee will start their terms officially in January. Next year, Faircloth will preside over cases in Berkeley and Morgan counties, while Judge Cohee will have cases in Berkeley and Jefferson counties.