Photo courtesy of Huntington Herald-Dispatch
CHARLESTON – Judge Dan O'Hanlon, chief judge of the Cabell County Circuit Court, was named Judge of the Year by the West Virginia Association for Justice.
Judge O'Hanlon was nominated for the award by Huntington attorneys Bert Ketchum and Paul T. Farrell, Jr. The award was presented at the WVAJ annual conference in June by WVAJ president Teresa Toriseva.
"Judge O'Hanlon is a dynamic, energetic and gifted jurist for the people who elected him in Cabell County and every West Virginian. He is someone who has worked hard every day that he has been on the bench to be fair and thoughtful in the administration of justice. I was honored to present him with this award," said Toriseva.
In their nomination for Judge O'Hanlon, Ketchum and Farrell wrote, "Judge O'Hanlon has earned the respect of (1) the West Virginia State Bar from which he receives high marks on its judicial rankings; (2) the business community which regularly asks him to sit on various boards and advise business leaders; (3) labor for which he is a former union member; (4) the medical community which asks him to speak at events; and (5) the voters which have made him the top vote getter in Cabell County."
In a 1998 interview with Huntington Quarterly magazine, O'Hanlon shared his thoughts on both the legal system and being a good judge.
"If you advocate for due process of law, things workout in the end and the result will be fair. The system is right a lot more often than it is wrong. A judge who's being a good judge in my view doesn't do it by virtue of individual personality, he does it by continuing to uphold the rules and traditions that have worked for 700 years in our society. The Hatfields and McCoys - that's what's waiting for people without our court system."
Judge O'Hanlon has served as a Cabell County Circuit Court judge since 1985. At that time, he was the youngest circuit court judge elected in West Virginia history.
He came to Huntington in 1978 as the director of the Marshall University Community College's paralegal program; from 1982 – 1984, he was the chairman of Marshall University's Criminal Justice department.
During that time, he also served as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Cabell County as well as a municipal judge for the City of Huntington.
Judge O'Hanlon has served as the chairman of the technology committee for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals since 1993.
Through his work with that committee, Judge O'Hanlon has made West Virginia a national leader in the use of videoconferencing technology in the courtroom, and has helped the state obtain nearly $7 million in grants to assist with that effort.
Originally from Chicago, O'Hanlon received his bachelor's degree from Marquette University in 1970. In 1973, he received his J.D. with honors from the Arizona State University College of Law. O'Hanlon is a member of MENSA, an international society whose members' IQs are in the top two percent.
The West Virginia Association for Justice, formerly the West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, is a professional association representing more than 600 plaintiffs' attorneys throughout West Virginia and in surrounding states.