CHARLESTON -- Charleston attorney Joanna I. Tabit is one of the seven candidates being considered for Judge Irene C. Berger's soon-to-be vacant seat in Kanawha Circuit Court.
Tabit is a lifelong resident of Kanawha County and has been practicing law for 23 years.
"I've lived here my whole life and I love the community," she said. "I stay involved in community activities and I plan to always be. This is my home."
Some of her community involvement is with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Governor's Council on Literacy, the Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center, Daymark Inc., Kanawha County Public Defender Corporation and the City of Charleston Human Rights Commission.
Tabit, who has been with Steptoe & Johnson since 1992, said she felt honored when she was notified by the governor's office that she was being considered to fill Berger's position.
"It's amazing to be considered and be a part of such a distinguished group of applicants, especially with it being Judge Berger's position because she is an exceptional person and an exceptional judge," she said.
Tabit said Berger's new position on the federal bench is well deserved.
"She leaves big shoes to fill, but I'm up for the challenge," she said.
Tabit graduated from Marshall University in 1983 with her bachelor's degree in business administration and from West Virginia University College of Law in 1986.
Tabit said between her junior and senior year at Marshall she considered going to law school.
"I credit my decision to Justice Margaret L. Workman," she said. "I was working at a restaurant and was contemplating my next step, so one night I called her to ask if I could volunteer in her office. She taught me so much and I was exposed to so many things, that's when I made up my mind that law was something I wanted to pursue. I'm grateful to her for teaching me that."
Tabit said there are a lot of reasons why Berger's seat in the circuit would be the right fit for her.
"I have a passion for this office and I even ran for it in 2000," she said. "I filed pre-candidacy papers in 2007 when I thought there might be a seat open. I have a lot of experience in both the private and public sector and given my work in the courtroom, this is just the natural progression. This is a long term goal of mine and it's something I'm very committed to."
Tabit is one of the seven candidates chosen by a Judicial Selection Committee for an appointment by Gov. Joe Manchin to fill the position soon to be vacated by Berger for her new position on the federal bench.
Tabit focuses her practice in trial and appellate advocacy. She has tried scores of cases in federal and state courts and has argued approximately 60 appeals in state and federal appellate courts. She is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Before working at Steptoe & Johnson, Tabit worked as the deputy attorney general on the Office of the Attorney General in West Virginia from 1989 until 1992 and was a personal law clerk for the Hon. Thomas E. McHugh from 1986 until 1988.
The other six candidates being considered are Carrie Webster, a Charleston attorney and chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee; Charleston lawyers Kathy Brown, David Cecil and Katherine Louise Dooley; Phyllis Carter, an administrative law judge with the state Human Rights Commission; and John Hackney Jr., a West Virginia State Court of Claims judge.