FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — The new presiding judge of West Virginia’s 12th Judicial Circuit took office on Wednesday.
Gov. Jim Justice selected Thomas H. Ewing, an attorney and longtime Fayette County resident, to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge John W. Hatcher Jr.
Ewing most recently was an attorney with the Charleston-based law firm of Kay, Casto & Chaney, serving as the managing member of the firm’s Fayetteville location since 2015. His specialization was business and commercial law, including banking and consumer litigation.
Ewing said he anticipates his new responsibilities will include an initial adjustment period as he encounters aspects of the law that generally were not part of his day-to-day experiences in his private practice.
“Most of my experience is civil, and very little criminal experience, and that’s going to be a quick learning curve for me,” he said.
Commenting on last year’s controversy regarding justices at the state Supreme Court, Ewing said he hopes he can set a positive example and help restore confidence in the state’s judicial system.
“There was a lot of speculation that (the accused justices) weren’t acting as public servants,” Ewing said. “It’s important for people to feel like the men and women making these decisions are people of integrity.”
Ewing said he will not allow economic pressure to become a factor in his decision-making process on drug-related charges despite escalating incarceration costs in Fayette County resulting from the drug crisis.
“A lot of the jail bill costs are when they’re initially arrested and they’re held in the bail and the bond system and all that. That’s something, I think, the judges can have some impact on,” he said.
Ewing will serve through the 2020 primary election. The candidate who wins that election will serve the remainder of the unexpired term through 2024.