Manchin already seeking replacement for Berger

By Lawrence Smith | Sep 17, 2009



CHARLESTON - Despite any confirmation the appointment of a Kanawha Circuit judge to a federal judgeship is official, Gov. Joe Manchin is moving forward with finding a replacement.

On Wednesday, the Governor's Office had posted on its Web site an announcement his Advisory Committee on Judicial Nominations "will receive applications immediately for the pending vacancy of the Thrirteenth Judicial District serving Kanawha County."

Though not stated, the announcement was in reference by the pending appointment of Judge Irene C. Berger by President Barack Obama to fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Obama formally announced his appointment of Berger on July 9 to replace Judge David Faber. Along with several other appointees, Berger made a trip to Washington, D.C., recently to appear before the U.S. Senate which confirms or denies federal judicial appointments.

It could not be verified by press time if Berger was officially confirmed. Calls to her office went unanswered, and a message left with the Governor's Office of General Counsel was not returned.

However, the announcement set Friday, Sept. 25 as the deadline for applications and Friday, Oct. 2 as the deadline for letters of recommendation. Any applications, and letters received after the deadline date will not be considered, the announcement said.

The announcement directed all applications and letters to be directed to Jonathan Deem, Manchin's general counsel. Though a link to the application is provided on the Web site, any one with questions was directed to call Deem's assistant, Janet Shelton.

A native of McDowell County, Berger first was appointed judge by then-Gov. Gaston Caperton in 1994 to replace a vacancy created by Judge John Hey. The appointment made her the first black female to serve on the bench.

If confirmed by the Senate, the 54-year-old Berger will be the first black female federal judge in West Virginia's history.

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