CHARLESTON - Longtime Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King has handed in his resignation, but he left a window open for his return.
King sent a letter to county officials Oct. 10, in which he said he had given Gov. Joe Manchin his letter of resignation, effective midnight Oct. 16.
"I am deeply grateful to the people of Kanawha County for having afforded me the opportunity and honor to serve as Circuit Judge of Kanawha County for the last twenty years," King wrote in a letter addressed to Kanawha County Commissioners Kent Carper, Dave Hardy and Hoppy Shores, as well as other county leaders.
King told the Charleston Gazette he resigned so he could start to draw his state pension.
He is currently running unopposed in November's election, and it is too late to replace him on the ballot. The sought term is eight years.
If he is re-elected, King legally could collect both his state pension and his salary as judge if he returns to the bench.
State circuit judges earn $116,000 annually.
Carper said King's return would be in the best interest of the people of Kanawha County.
"Judge King is without a doubt one of the finest judges Kanawha County has had the privilege to have," Carper, an attorney, said. "He is a remarkable and fair judge.
"I'm glad he is going to consider returning after the first of the year. I hope he does."
According to state law, if King decides not to return, Manchin will appoint someone to fill the spot.
King, a graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law, became an assistant prosecutor in 1973.
He worked as assistant prosecutor for several years and was appointed county prosecutor in 1984. Four years later, King was elected circuit judge.