HUNTINGTON – Like another state judge, Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred Ferguson is planning to retire from the bench this month.

But unlike Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King, Ferguson says he plans to return to the courtroom in January after he's likely re-elected in the Nov. 4 election.

"I have attempted to serve the people of Cabell County honorably," Ferguson wrote in the resignation letter. "My 31 years on the bench has been extremely rewarding."

Ferguson, 71, told attorneys in his courtroom Thursday of his plans to not be on the bench in November and December. His retirement is effective Oct. 31, and he sent his resignation letters to Gov. Joe Manchin, state court Administrative Director Steve Canterbury and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Spike Maynard on Thursday.

"A high percentage of people my age are either retired or deceased," Ferguson said in prepared remarks, according to The Herald-Dispatch newspaper in Huntington. "As you grow older, you become more aware your days on this earth are growing shorter and shorter. No one knows what the future will bring, for we have no promises tomorrow."

He also said he had missed less than 15 days of work in 32 years on the bench.

Ferguson also said he and King had discussed their plans. Both of the judges are part of an older state retirement plan that allows them to collect pension and salary if they do decide to return to the bench upon re-election.

Ferguson told The Herald-Dispatch he expect criticism, but said his plan isn't double dipping.

"It's perfectly legal," he told The Herald-Dispatch. "I don't consider it double dipping. It's my money that I put into the account … It's time for me to start taking some of it out."

Manchin will appoint a replacement, but Ferguson told the newspaper he has asked Maynard to appoint a specific senior judge to serve the rest of the term.

Last week, King said he was retiring effective Oct. 16. Unlike Ferguson, he said he hasn't decided if he'll return to the bench in January upon his likely re-election.

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