CHARLESTON – An eastern Panhandle circuit judge who is one of the Republican candidates for state Supreme Court is in the hospital for heart surgery.
Judge John Yoder on Wednesday said he was entering George Washington University Hospital on Thursday for pre-operation procuedures. The surgery to replace his aortic heart valve is planned for Friday. He said a procedure will be done Thursday to determine if he needs bypass surgery in addition to the valve replacement.
"My surgery is being advanced several days because of the poor condition of my valve, but the good news is that tests indicated today that I have a strong heart muscle," he said.
Yoder previously had said the surgery will affect neither his caseload nor his campaign.
"I was born with a defect in my aortic valve and have known for about 10 years that the valve would have to be replaced, but was hoping it would be a few years away," he said. "I found out this week that the time has come when I must replace it in scheduled surgery without any further delay."
"If everything goes well, I am hopeful that I will be able to start returning to work in about three weeks and then have a full recovery in six weeks.
State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ketchum has assigned retired Jefferson County Judge Thomas Steptoe to cover Yoder's caseload during the surgery and recovery.
"I am expecting to be fully recovered in time to actively campaign in my race for state Supreme Court this year," Yoder had posted on Facebook. "I will appreciate your continued support and prayers for successful surgery and recovery."
Yoder and current state Supreme Court law clerk Allen Loughry are the Republicans running for two state Supreme Court seats.
On the Democratic side, current Justice Robin Jean Davis, circuit judges J.D. Beane and Jim Rowe, Charleston attorney Tish Chafin, current Supreme Court law clerk Louis Palmer and New Martinsville attorney H. John "Buck" Rogers are running for the two spots in the general election.
The primary election is May 8, and the general election is Nov. 6.