O'Hanlon leaving bench after 25 years

By Kyla Asbury | Aug 18, 2010


HUNTINGTON -- Cabell Circuit Judge Dan O'Hanlon will be leaving the bench after 25 years on Oct. 31.

O'Hanlon, 62, announced his decision Aug. 16 in a meeting with Gov. Joe Manchin, saying the two-month notice will give Manchin enough time to find a successor without impacting the court's caseload.

After consulting with Jonathan Deem, Manchin's general counsel, to see how long it would take to put together the committee that would recommend candidates to Manchin and finding out the process takes approximately six weeks, O'Hanlon said he wanted to be sure he gave the governor plenty of time to find a replacement.

O'Hanlon said he wanted to go out on top.

"I don't want to be one of these people that stays until they say, 'When is that old guy going to get out of here.' I want to leave when people will be sorry to see me go," O'Hanlon said. "I'd like to go out on top, and I feel like I have achieved all of the goals I set for myself in my career as a judge."

O'Hanlon said he would like to find something else meaningful to do while he still has the energy and enthusiasm to do it.

"I'm looking for some other contribution I can make," he said. "I hope when people hear I'm retiring as a judge that they will think about opportunities for me."

Steven Canterbury, the administrative director of West Virginia's court system, said O'Hanlon is the epitome of a public servant and a one-of-a-kind guy that will not be replaced easily.

In his brief letter to Manchin, O'Hanlon thanked the governor for his friendship and assistance with the retirement process.

Although he doesn't know for sure what will come next in his career, O'Hanlon said he is open to anything.

"I am ready to do something else, and I'm looking for something else meaningful to do," he said.

O'Hanlon was first elected in November 1984, when he defeated then-incumbent D.B. Daugherty. He was re-elected in 1992, 2000 and 2008.

He won the Governor's Information Technology Award in 1999 for developing a video system that linked courthouses to jails and prisons across the state and also contributed to the county's Adult Drug Court, Juvenile Drug Court and Day Report Center. In 2007, the West Virginia Association for Justice named him "Judge of the Year."

O'Hanlon earned his undergraduate degree from Marquette University and graduated from Arizona State University's College of Law in 1973. He came to Huntington in 1978 to direct the paralegal program at Marshall University Community College and was later part of Marshall University's Criminal Justice Department. He also worked as a Cabell County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney and a Huntington Municipal Judge.

O'Hanlon became eligible for retirement upon serving his 24th year on the bench. He said he intends to collect his full retirement.

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