Tod J. Kaufman is Kanawha Circuit Court's chief judge for 2010. (Photo by Kyla Asbury)

CHARLESTON -- Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman is serving as the chief judge of the Kanawha Circuit Court.

Kaufman has been on the bench since he was elected in 1988 to an unexpired term. He is taking over for Circuit Judge James C. Stucky, who held the rotating administrative post in 2009. Kaufman previously served as chief judge in 1997 and 2003.

Kaufman said one of the chief judge's responsibilities is to oversee the fair administration of court cases.

"When cases are filed, the computer randomly assigns them to each of the seven judges in the district," Kaufman said. "The chief judge makes sure each judge has the same amount of cases."

Kaufman said the chief judge also is responsible to see that in case of a conflict or recusal, a case is reassigned fairly.

Kaufman said he likes that Kanawha's chief judge position rotates each year.

"The chief judge has a lot of responsibility and the fact that we rotate each year, each judge learns about all the responsibilities and how to handle them," Kaufman said. "It's important for each judge to understand the process of each part of the system and by rotating, we all learn the process."

Next to Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib Jr., Kaufman is the senior jurist in length of service on the Kanawha Circuit Court, according to a news release from the Court Administrator's office.

The 13th Judicial Circuit is the largest and busiest in the state and handles all administrative appeals in addition to all general criminal and civil jurisdictions from state government as an intermediate court of appeals.

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