Stephanie Thacker was sworn in as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit earlier this week.CHARLESTON – Stephanie Thacker was sworn in as the newest circuit judge for the Fourth Circuit of the United States on May 29.
Thacker, a Hamlin native, is the first woman from West Virginia to serve as a judge in the Fourth Circuit. She was appointed to the bench after the death of M. Blane Michael last year.
Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin were present at Thacker's investiture, as well as Chief United States District Judge for the Southern District of West Virginia Joseph R. Goodwin, Thacker's family, friends and some former co-workers.
"Judge Thacker is already an award-winning public servant," Rockefeller said. "She had a respect for the law and passion, but she also has an endless work ethic, wisdom and sincerity to bring with her to the Fourth Circuit."
Manchin said Thacker will be following in the footsteps of giants.
"But, I know she will do it and she will do it well," Manchin said. "I have no doubt she will make a highly successful judge."
United States Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit Robert B. King said Thacker's investiture was a grand occasion as there were 11 of the now 15 Fourth Circuit judges attending the event.
King said only eight West Virginians until Thacker had been judges in the Fourth Circuit court.
"Of the eight West Virginians who have served on the Fourth Circuit court, only two were appointed without the approval of Robert C. Byrd," King said. "This is truly a historic event and Judge Thacker is a distinguished appointee to the bench."
Goodwin said Thacker's legal career and her knowledge will equal her predecessors.
"The only thing small about Judge Thacker is her stature," Goodwin said. "She had a big brain, a big heart and a big commitment to the justice system. You could not ask for a better person for the job."
Two of Thacker's former co-workers, David B. Thomas and Susan M. Robinson, both from Thomas Combs & Spann, PLLC remarked on Thacker's legal career and her history, as well as their friendships with her.
"She is a true inspiration and a tremendous addition to the court," Thomas said. "She is a worthy successor."
Robinson said Thacker was always a tough person and a fighter.
"She is the most driven person I know," Robinson said. "She is always prepared and she has always made it her commitment to do the best job she could, no matter how big or small the commitment is."
Robinson remarked that although Thacker did not win the Golden Horseshoe when she was in eighth grade, her name will be on the test for many years to come.
Thacker said she was still overwhelmed to be part of the Fourth Circuit.
"I am truly honored and humbled to be a member of this court," Thacker said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I expect or imagine I would be sitting here today."
Thacker said when she received the call last May and was asked to consider having her name put in for Michael's vacancy on the bench, she was flattered and honored, but was surprised at the thought of it.
"I just took a deep, cleansing breath—like they teach you in yoga—and thought, 'that is the craziest thing I have ever heard,'" Thacker said. "I never imagined I would be here. I want to thank my mother for saying I should go to law school, because that wasn't my idea and she's proven once again that your mother always knows best."
Thacker graduated from Marshall University in 1987 and West Virginia University College of Law in 1990. She was a federal prosecutor for 12 years.
The Fourth Circuit consists of the states of Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.