BLUEFIELD – Even when William Sadler was in private practice, he had the mentality of a prosecuting attorney.
And it’s that mentality that Gov. Joe Manchin hopes will work out for Sadler as a judge.
Manchin appointed Sadler to Mercer Circuit Judge Dec. 15 to replace the retired John Frazier. Sadler had been the county’s prosecuting attorney since 1998 and previously worked part-time as an assistant prosecutor while keeping his own practice.
Out of the three recent appointments, Sadler and Groh had extensive experience in the prosecutor’s office.
“As prosecuting attorneys, they make their living working in the courtroom,” Manchin legal counsel Carte Goodwin said. “They have extensive experience with trial proceedings.
“It’s certainly a plus.”
Sadler agreed, saying that while a prosecutor he tried more cases than any other attorneys in the county, and that understanding the workings of a courtroom is key for any judge.
“The most important aspect of being a judge is you need to know how to manage a courtroom, and as a prosecuting attorney we try more cases in our office than anyone,” he said.
Sadler was appointed prosecuting attorney in 1998 after Charles Smith retired, and the citizens of Mercer County continued to elect him.
Goodwin said that prosecutors often have to act in the best interest of justice and not be worried about winning every case.
“They have to make sure justice is done, and I think Mr. Sadler exemplified that in every respect,” he said. “That’s why he’ll make an outstanding judge.”
Sadler said he plans to start his new job when the new year begins and had just wrapped up a trial before being interviewed. He also said the workload in Mercer County, considered one of the state’s heaviest, will be a challenge.
He and fellow circuit judge Derek Swope will have to be up to the task.
“It’s a tremendous caseload here in Mercer County, both criminal and civil cases,” he said. “It basically requires judges to put in a lot of hours.
“Court is held everyday by both judges. Basically it’s going to be a rigorous effort to keep the cases moving.”
Sadler is a Mercer County native and earned his B.S. from West Virginia University in business administration with a focus on accounting, then earned his law degree in 1988.
From there, he started in private practice in Princeton and in 1993 took the part-time job with the prosecuting attorney’s office. He kept his practice until 1998, when he was appointed prosecuting attorney.
“The trial experience you gain there is invaluable,” he said.