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Most veteran Kanawha County circuit judge, Duke Bloom, decides to retire

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Longtime Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom says he plans to retire from the bench at the end of the month.

Bloom, who was first elected in November 2000, handed in his resignation Friday, effective June 30.

Bloom told MetroNews it’s a good time to retire.

“I had decided I was not going to run for reelection (in 2024) and I thought so long as I was not going to do that I may as well give people the opportunity to run next year and give them as much time as possible,” Bloom said. “It seemed a good time for a transition.”

Bloom was a Kanawha County commissioner from 1986-2000. He decided to seek a seat on circuit court when Kanawha County Circuit Judge Andrew MacQueen decided to retire.

“It seems like yesterday I was the new kid on the block now I’m the most senior judge in Kanawha County,” Bloom said.

Bloom’s retirement completes a cycle of sorts. When his replacement is appointed, it will make five new judges in the seven-judge Kanawha County circuit since 2014.

“I feel good about the decision because we have almost a whole new bench and really a bunch of good qualified people and I feel like I’m leaving the Kanawha County judiciary in very good hands,” Bloom said.

Gov. Jim Justice will eventually appoint a replacement for Bloom. That replacement will serve the remainder of his term which runs to Dec. 31, 2024. The seat will be up for election, a full eight-year term, next May.

Bloom said a lot has changed in circuit court in his nearly two dozen years on the bench.

“My first year on the bench there were 97 abuse and neglect cases filed in Kanawha County, last year there were over 800 cases filed in Kanawha County,” Bloom said. “That’s a wrinkle on top of all the other work a circuit judge has.”

Bloom noted Kanawha County has very busy criminal and civil dockets.

Bloom said he wants to remain active in retirement including taking on senior judge status and doing some mediation work.

“I’m really looking to doing mediations. I’ve obviously done a lot of that in helping resolve cases that were before me over the years. I think that’s a meaningful thing for people to have a say over how their cases are resolved,” Bloom said.

Bloom’s resignation leaves Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey, who took the bench in 2002, as the most veteran Kanawha County circuit judge.

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