Manchin has list of seven to replace Berger

By Chris Dickerson | Oct 23, 2009



CHARLESTON -– If Kanawha Circuit Judge Irene Berger is confirmed for a federal judgeship, Gov. Joe Manchin already has the list of her seven potential successors.

On Friday, the Governor's Advisory Committee on Judicial Nominations presented its recommended list of candidates to Manchin.

Manchin will choose a successor for Berger if she is confirmed for a seat on the federal bench, but he won't name a successor until Berger's post actually becomes vacant.

"In the interest of expediency and the likelihood that Berger will move to the federal court, Manchin began the selection process in September," a release from the governor's office said.

The list includes five women:

* Kathy A. Brown, Kathy Brown Law PLLC

* Phyllis H. Carter, Chief Administrative Law Judge of the West Virginia Human Rights Commission

* David J. Cecil, Barth & Thompson

* Katherine Louise Dooley, The Dooley Law Firm PLLC

* John G. Hackney Jr., solo practitioner and judge on the West Virginia State Court of Claims

* Joanna I. Tabit, Steptoe & Johnson PLLC

* Carrie Webster, Bucci, Bailey & Javins LC and chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee

"The governor understands the considerable caseload in the Kanawha County circuit, and believes it was responsible to begin the process, should Judge Berger's seat become vacant," said Jonathan Deem, general counsel for the Governor's Office, and the governor's designee on the advisory committee. "The advisory committee will consider these candidates and provide recommendations to the governor, but only after the seat becomes vacant.

"At this point, the governor does not have a vacancy to fill, but in the interest of transparency, we want to provide the list of these well qualified and capable candidates."

President Obama formally announced his appointment of Berger on July 9 to replace Judge David Faber on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. 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.

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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