CHARLESTON -- Gov. Joe Manchin on Tuesday announced his appointment of Phillip D. Gaujot to the newly created judgeship in the 17th Judicial Circuit in Monongalia County.
"Selecting the right candidate for the position was a difficult and lengthy process, but Mr. Gaujot was unquestionably the most experienced and qualified lawyer interviewed by the committee," Manchin said. "He has proven his dedication to the citizens of West Virginia and his commitment to the legal profession. His knowledge and accomplishments give me great confidence in his ability to serve the people of Monongalia County."
Gaujot has been practicing various types of law in West Virginia for 38 years, and has served as administrative law judge for Workforce West Virginia for the past eight. He has been practicing law since 1971 when he served as assistant attorney general for West Virginia until 1974.
Since then he has been a solo practitioner in Charleston and Morgantown, and he has gained experience through various circuit courts within the state as well as the West Virginia Public Service Commission, Court of Claims and Supreme Court of Appeals.
"I believe a good judge is one who has the ability to set aside ideologies, beliefs and/or inclinations for the purpose of being completely fair to all litigants," Goujot said. "I thank Governor Manchin for giving me the privilege of serving Monongalia County as Judge of the Circuit Court. I also thank all of those who have supported me, including my wife and family."
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Justice Brent Benjamin on Wednesday welcomed Gaujot to the judiciary.
"I have had the opportunity to work with Mr. Gaujot in the past," Benjamin said. "He has always been a fine gentleman and a fine attorney. I believe he will be an outstanding judge."
The Legislature created the seat earlier this year through Senate Bill 338, which passed during the 2009 regular legislative session. Judge Gaujot will join Chief Judge Russell M. Clawges Jr. and Judge Susan B. Tucker in the Seventeenth Circuit.
Gaujot, 64, has practiced law in West Virginia for 38 years and has served as administrative law judge for Workforce West Virginia for the past eight years. He was an assistant attorney general from 1971 to 1974 and since then has been a solo practitioner in Charleston and Morgantown. Additionally, Judge Gaujot served as general counsel for the city of Nitro for 18 years, the city of Shinnston for eight years, and for the sheriff of Kanawha County.
He is a member of the Board of Directors of the West Virginia University Alumni Association, having received his bachelor's degree in political science in 1968 and his law degree in 1971 from WVU. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Mon General Hospital Foundation and a past member of Session of the First Presbyterian Church in Morgantown.
"I am absolutely humbled. I am humbled that I can serve the community as a judge because I do think the judge of a circuit court is one of the most important, if not the most important, jobs in the county," Gaujot said. "I look forward to representing the people of this county and doing it in the fairest way. I believe that I can set aside any preconceived thoughts that I might have, or even biases that I might have, and rule based upon the merits of a case and the facts and the law. I believe I have the wisdom to do that.
"I am humbled by all the support that was given to me in this endeavor of being appointed as a judge. I had a lot of support from a lot of lawyers and non-lawyers from around the state, and around the country for that matter."
He said he is eager to start work as soon as the logistics of his training and swearing-in can be worked out.
"We welcome Judge Gaujot and look forward to working with him," Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury said.