2017-09-20 / Front Page

McLaughlin sworn in as 23rd Circuit judge


Circuit Court Judge Debra McLaughlin stands with Judge Christopher Wilkes following her swearing in to the bench on Monday, September 18. Circuit Court Judge Debra McLaughlin stands with Judge Christopher Wilkes following her swearing in to the bench on Monday, September 18. Morgan County’s Prosecuting Attorney was sworn in on Monday, September 18 as the newest judge of the 23rd Judicial Circuit.

Debra McLaughlin took her oath of office before a standing-room only crowd in the Morgan County Circuit

Courtroom filled with attorneys, law enforcement officers and community members. Judge Christopher Wilkes, the chief judge of the 23rd circuit, conducted the swearing in ceremony.

McLaughlin joins five other judges who preside over cases in the three counties of the Eastern Panhandle – Judge Bridget Cohee, Judge Laura Faircloth, Judge Michael Lorensen, Judge Gray Silver III and Judge Christopher Wilkes.

McLaughlin was appointed to the bench by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice late last month to fill a vacancy on the court left by the sudden death of Circuit Judge John Yoder on June 9. Yoder had just been elected to a term on the bench last May.

McLaughlin will serve as judge through May 2018, when a nonpartisan judicial election will be held to replace Yoder. She has indicated she will run for election to a full term as Circuit Court Judge.

Due to her long tenure with the Prosecutor’s office here, McLaughlin expects to serve on the bench in Jefferson County.

McLaughlin holds a law degree from Kansas University, and has practiced law since 1993 in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. She was Morgan County’s Assistant Prosecutor from 1999 to 2002. McLaughlin was elected three times as Prosecuting Attorney.

Morgan County will gain a new Prosecuting Attorney – Dan James – this Friday, September 22. James previously worked for several years as McLaughlin’s assistant. He was elected as Hampshire County’s Prosecuting Attorney in 2012, and has resigned that post to return to Morgan County.

During Monday’s investiture ceremony, Circuit Clerk Melanie Shambaugh introduced the members of the judiciary who were in attendance and talked about her work as McLaughlin’s assistant for 17 years.

Father John Ledford said the blessing over the ceremony and longtime former bailiff A.C. Bohrer escorted judges into the courtroom.

McLaughlin’s three children and husband, Dr. Kevin McLaughlin, took part in a robing ceremony before Judge McLaughlin was greeted by her fellow Circuit Court judges.

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