CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Supreme Court has announced that former Nicholas Circuit Judge Gary Johnson, who was defeated in last year’s election, will be its interim administrative director.
Johnson is replacing Steve Canterbury. The move begins immediately.
“I’m delighted Gary Johnson has agreed to be the interim administrative leader of the West Virginia court system at this time,” said new Chief Justice Allen H. Loughry II. “He has long been a leader among circuit judges and has served in many capacities on numerous committees dedicated to improving the entire court system on behalf of the people of West Virginia.”
Steve Callaghan defeated the incumbent Johnson in last spring’s general election for the Circuit 28 seat, which covers Nicholas County. Callaghan got 3,445 votes and Johnson got 3,216.
Johnson was elected as the only circuit judge in Nicholas County in 1992 and served until this past Dec. 31. He has been appointed numerous times to sit on the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia in cases in which a justice was recused, including one appointment as acting chief justice.
Johnson operated a private law practice in Nicholas County from 1980 to 1985 and 1989 to 1993 and served as Richwood’s municipal judge from 1981 to 1985. He was elected Nicholas County prosecutor in 1985 and served in that position for four years.
He has served as chairman of the West Virginia Court Improvement Program Oversight Board since 2001. He also was a member of the Supreme Court’s Juvenile Justice Commission, the 2014 Governor’s Intergovernmental Task Force on Juvenile Justice, and the Commission to Study the Residential Placement of Children.
Johnson earned an undergraduate degree in history and political science in 1973 and a master’s degree in public administration in 1974, all from West Virginia University, before completing his law degree in 1980 at West Virginia University College of Law.
A father of five, Judge Johnson lives in Richwood with his wife, Susan.
Canterbury, who Johnson is replacing, had served as the administrative director since July 2005. Before that, he was executive director of the state Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority from 1997 to 2005.