CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin could choose a new circuit judge for Mingo County soon. The state Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission held interviews Monday and forwarded some┬ánames to him.

The commission’s protocol doesn’t allow much information to be released but panel member Kent Carper told MetroNews seven candidates were interviewed and 2 to 5 names, according to the rules of the commission, were forwarded to the governor.

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Advisory panel member and Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper

“There were a couple of good candidates,” Carper said.

The person chosen will come into a courthouse in Williamson that’s been rocked with controversy in recent months including the federal convictions of Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, county Prosecutor Michael Sparks, Chief Magistrate Dallas Toler and Mingo County Commissioner Dave Baisden. All have resigned their positions.

Thornsbury and Sparks lost their jobs for violating a man’s constitutional rights in an effort to protect the reputation of slain Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum. All four men were members of Team Mingo, a political slate of candidates that ran in the 2012 elections.

Carper said Team Mingo came up during Monday’s interviews.

“It was surprising that so many folks who live in Mingo County, who are involved in the political process, really were surprised to find out about what was going on there. Some had never even heard of Team Mingo,” Carper said.

Gov. Tomblin can choose a new circuit judge from the list of candidates forwarded by the advisory panel or make his own selection. Carper said it’s been the habit of Tomblin to choose from among the forwarded list.

Carper wouldn’t say how many names went to the governor.

“In this case I think it’s safe to say the commission whittled it down considerably,” Carper said.

Candidates for the job include Robert H. Carlton, Jonathan Wayne Jewell, Steven Johnston Knopp, Teresa McCune, Glen R. Rutledge II and Mingo Family Court Judge Miki Thompson. Attorney Tish Chafin, the wife of Mingo County Senator Truman Chafin, withdrew her name from consideration last week.


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