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Interim judge to take Farrell’s seat

August 19, 2018

HUNTINGTON - As appointed West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Paul T. Farrell looks ahead to the court’s Sept. 5 term start, a retired circuit court judge has been appointed to take over his cases in Cabell County in the interim.

Farrell was appointed last week to the West Virginia Supreme Court by Chief Justice Margaret Workman to serve during the suspension of Justice Allen Loughry. After being sworn in Aug. 10, Farrell’s docket was suspended while Cabell Circuit Court judges discussed the best way to handle his cases.

His docket is slated to resume Monday, Aug. 20, under the direction of Cabell Circuit Judge Gregory Howard. Senior Status Judge Thomas H. Keadle, a retired judge who heard cases in Lewis and Upshur counties for more than 25 years, will take over Farrell’s docket starting Tuesday, Aug. 21. Keadle was appointed by Workman on Friday, according to an administrative order released by the court, and his appointment will last through Aug. 31.

Farrell’s appointment to the Supreme Court came in the midst of the state’s House of Delegates proceedings that led to the impeachment of four justices. Farrell will now take over as acting chief justice and will preside over the impeachment trial in the Senate.

After the house voted for their impeachments earlier this week, Justice Robin Davis announced her retirement as to put her seat up for a vote, rather than face impeachment and have someone appointed to her seat. Former Justice Menis Ketchum resigned last month.

After he was appointed, Farrell said he did not have a desire to run for a permanent Supreme Court position at this time. He said he took the position to do “whatever the court needed to help us move forward.”

Farrell has served more than seven years as a circuit court judge. He was appointed to the bench in the 6th Judicial Circuit (Cabell County) by then-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in 2011 and was elected to the position in 2012. His appointment to the Cabell Circuit Court came after the retirement of Dan O’Hanlon, who retired in October 2010 after serving more than 25 years as a circuit judge in Cabell County.

The circuit courts of West Virginia handle felony cases, civil cases seeking more than $2,500, habeas corpus, appeals from lower courts and several other cases.

Farrell had a murder trial slated to begin next week; however, the case was continued after an attorney of a suspect requested a continuance, not because of Farrell’s appointment.

Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.

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