Webster feels inspired by role as circuit judge

By Kyla Asbury | May 7, 2010

CHARLESTON -- Carrie Webster has been busy adjusting to her new role as circuit judge, but that has not stopped her from feeling inspired by what she does and inspiring those around her.

Webster said the first time she felt she could have an impact on someone's life as a judge was an inspiring and pivotal moment for her.

The case involved a young girl who had allegedly made some bad decisions in her life and for her children and was being charged with child neglect.

Webster said she was not legally able to order the girl to go to a treatment facility that helped young mothers, but she was able to encourage her to do so.

"When I first met this girl she was defiant, but by the time everything ended, she was so much more responsive," Webster said. "This girl realized she would be better equipped with parenting skills at the treatment facility and she made the decision to go on her own."

Because she has a young child, Webster said she could relate to how the young mother was feeling and use her own life experiences to help her.

"I told her that I knew it was hard being a parent and raising a child," Webster said. "I'm raising a child, too, so I have that experience."

Webster said she the young mother's lawyer was also young and that she, too, felt empowered.

"You could just see how inspired she was and how she went above and beyond to help her client because the young mother trusted her and needed her," Webster said. "It was a very inspiring case and very close to my heart because I felt like I played a role in changing the young mother's life in a positive way."

Webster said she was able to step into her role as judge with the experiences from her days as an attorney and as a delegate.

"Judge (Irene) Berger did her best to put her cases in the best shape for me," Webster said. "That helped me, and the familiarity I had with some things provided a comfort level for me."

But, Webster said, regardless of her previous knowledge and work, the first time she had to terminate a parent's rights to their child was one of the most heavy-hearted moments she has experienced.

"I remember the first time I had to do it, and I know I will always remember it," she said. "It was a very hard decision for me, but I have to do my job, and in that case I was looking out for the children involved."

Webster said she has always treated people fairly and respectfully.

"I don't profess to now everything, but I like to serve and I like people," she said. "I like to use my talents to help people and make sure everyone gets a chance to show their side. That is all I can do."

As a judge, Webster said her job is not to make the law, but to follow it.

"As a legislator, I spent my time making laws, but as a judge I spend my time interpreting the law and then following it," she said. "I've learned so many things the last few months that I had not handled before becoming a judge. There is nothing like hands-on experience to teach you things."

Webster was appointed by Gov. Joe Manchin to fill Berger's vacant seat on the bench after she left to become a federal judge. Webster was one of seven candidates for the circuit judge position.

"I'm up for election this time since I was appointed to fill Judge Berger's place during her term, but I think the positive thing is that Gov. Manchin chose me after he went through all of the candidates," she said. "I haven't been a judge that long, but I'm hoping to stay here because I feel like this is where I belong."

Webster said she is not running against anyone in the primaries, but will run against Republican Dan Greear in the 2010 election.

"I will spend some time campaigning," she said. "But my main goal is to keep moving forward and do my job the best I can and serve the people."

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