Kanawha judge King back on bench after October retirement

By Kelly Holleran | Jan 6, 2009

CHARLESTON -- Kanawha Circuit Judge Charles King is back on the bench after resigning in October.

King gave no reason for his return, saying he would not comment on the situation.

"There's no reason for me to go into the subject," he said.

At the time of his resignation, King said he was undecided whether he would return to his job. His move just before the election sparked controversy, with critics calling his move a legal form of "double dipping" by drawing a salary and a pension.

King is the second judge to return to the bench after retiring in October. Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred Ferguson also returned to the courtroom this month after he was re-elected Nov. 4.

But unlike King, Ferguson said all along he planned on returning.

"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 said he and King discussed their plans. They are both part of an older state retirement system that allows them to collect retirement pension and salary at the same time.

"A high percentage of people my age are either retired or deceased," Ferguson said in prepared remarks when he announced his retirement. "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."

Ferguson told The Herald-Dispatch at the time of his announcement that he does not consider his actions double-dipping.

"It's perfectly legal," he said. "It's my money that I put into the account ... It's time for me to start taking some of it out."

In a letter King sent to Kanawha County officials on Oct. 10, he said he submitted his letter of resignation to Gov. Joe Manchin.

"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 year," he wrote.

King was unopposed when he sought re-election in November.

He became county prosecutor in 1973 and was elected prosecutor in 1984. He was elected as a judge in 1988.

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