Putnam Circuit Judge Phillip M. Stowers, right, swears-in J. Robert Leslie as the county's other circuit judge during Leslie's investiture ceremony June 12.
Former Putnam Circuit Judge O.C. "Hobby" Spaulding, right, congratulates J. Robert Leslie as his replacement following Leslie's investiture ceremony Tuesday, June 12 at the Putnam County Judicial Annex. (Photo by Lawrence Smith)
HURRICANE – A Hurricane attorney recently appointed as a Putnam Circuit judge is looking forward to the next step in his career.
J. Robert Leslie, a Ceredo native, has been practicing as an attorney for nearly 20 years and has been at Tyree, Embree & Leslie for the last 10 years.
He was appointed to the bench last month by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to replace O.C. "Hobby" Spaulding, who retired earlier this year after he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease.
Leslie said becoming a judge is a life-changing event.
"It's a huge milestone," Leslie said. "But it is a big blessing, and I'm truly excited about starting the next chapter in my career."
Leslie said although he is looking forward to beginning work as a judge, he will miss his co-workers and clients at Tyree, Embree & Leslie.
"I love the folks I work with and I will truly miss my clients," Leslie said. "It's bittersweet. But I'm looking forward to getting on the bench and serving Putnam County."
Growing up, Leslie was not sure what career path he would choose. It was not until his senior year of high school that someone told him he would do well in the law profession.
"I was in English class, and we had to memorize a poem," Leslie said. "The teacher told us to get out a piece of paper and write down the poem we had memorized, and I froze. I couldn't remember the poem at all! But, I had the same English teacher the year before, and we had to memorize a poem then, too. I could remember that poem, so I wrote it down and then wrote at the bottom of the page that he had failed to specify which poem we had to write down."
Leslie said when his teacher came across his paper, he agreed with him and told him he should consider a law career.
Leslie said when he graduated from Marshall University with his Bachelor's degree in History, he considered becoming a teacher, but, ultimately chose law instead.
"My mother and grandmother are educators, and I seriously considered it," Leslie said. "But, I thought the legal profession suited my personality better."
Leslie said after his first day of law school, he knew he had made the right decision.
"I loved everything about law school," Leslie said. "I knew I had found my niche. I loved every moment of it."
Leslie said he is looking forward to bringing his trial work experience with him to the bench.
"I have spent my entire law career working on trial cases," Leslie said. "I think the experience that I have will make me efficient and effective on the bench."
Leslie attended Marshall University and graduated with a Bachelor's in History in 1988. He attended Ohio Northern University Claude W. Pettit College of Law and graduated in 1993. He and his wife, Amy Hensley Leslie, live in Hurricane.
Leslie, a Democrat, faces Republican Joseph K. Reeder, a Hurricane attorney, in November to fill Spaulding's unexpired term.