J.D. Beane

CHARLESTON - Even though he's served 16 years in the House of Delegates and was recently appointed by Gov. Joe Manchin to become the new Wood Circuit Judge, Parkersburg attorney J.D. Beane admits he's the black sheep of his family.

While his brothers followed in their father's path, Beane said he opted for something less visceral.

"I couldn't stand the sight of blood," he said. "It wasn't in my future to become a doctor."

It's doubtful that Dr. John Beane laments his son's decision, now that he joins judges Robert Waters and Jeffery Reed in serving the 4th Circuit, which also covers Wirt County.

"It's an opportunity that doesn't necessarily come by often," J.D. Beane said. "Having served in the Legislature for 16 years and being away from my family and things like that, I'd been thinking about looking to do something different in the future. I didn't think it would happen nearly this soon."

And it's happened in the county in which he's spent most of his life, having moved to Wood County in time for first grade.

Father John grew up in Braxton County, then graduated from West Virginia University and did his residency in Huntington, taking his family with him. In the army, John was stationed in Knoxville, Tenn. He lived there for two years before bringing the family back to West Virginia.

Because seating charts were done alphabetically in medical school, he befriended and eventually opened a practice with two other doctors whose last names began with "B". A fourth later joined it.

Two of his sons continued the legacy, but J.D. opted for law school at Capital University in Columbus.

A Democrat with his own private practice who eventually earned enough respect to win a spot in the Legislature, Beane served as the chairman of the House Government Organization Committee, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Government Operations and the Interstate Cooperation Committee and vice-chairman of the House Banking Committee.

He dropped it all to take his seat on the bench, which he plans to do in early January.

"It's obviously something I'm anxious to start, although there's that hesitation about wanting to do the right thing and do a great job. Not having done it before presents a challenge," Beane said.

"I've been part of making laws for 16 years, so hopefully I'll be able to interpret those laws. Hopefully I'll be able to interpret some of those laws I was responsible for passing."

Retired senior status judges Arthur Gustke and James Holliday filled in while Manchin made his decision, and Beane applauded their efforts. He also said he will lean on Reed and Waters while he learns on the job.

"I've spent some time with them recently, checked their schedule of what they have going on and planned to get with them during the business day and after," Beane said.

Watching those judges perform and anticipating himself doing the same reminds Beane of why he's giving up his practice and seat in the Legislature.

"As a lawyer, as with many lawyers probably, from time to time I pondered the thought of someday becoming a judge," he said. "It happened sooner than I thought.

"I enjoyed serving in the Legislature and know this opportunity may not present itself again. It's one of those things that when it became available and thought about it, and it was a 'Here-I-am' kind of thing."

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