CHARLESTON – Citizens in five mountain counties will soon know the names of their new circuit judges.

Following interviews with seven candidates on March 27, the Judicial Advisory Vacancy Commission released the names of the three candidates it submitted to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to fill Judge Thomas Keadle’s vacancy in the 26th Judicial Circuit, covering Lewis and Upshur counties. According to Peter Markham, the commission’s advisor, the finalists are: Kurt W. Hall, an assistant prosecuting attorney in Harrison County; C. Sue Holvey, an attorney in Roanoke; and Jacob Reger, the Upshur County prosecuting attorney.

Tomblin will choose one to replace Keadle, who retired Jan. 31.

Prior to the meeting, the commission narrowed the field of candidates to seven it wanted to interview. Failing to make the cut were: Elkins attorneys Earl W. Maxwell and Andrea J. Roberts; William J. O’Brien, an attorney with Steptoe and Johnson’s Bridgeport office; and Gilmer County Prosecutor Gerald B. Hough.

The commission is scheduled to meet again April 4 to select finalists to fill Judge Donald C. Cookman’s vacancy in the 22nd Judicial Circuit, serving Pendleton, Hardy and Hampshire counties. The three candidates scheduled to be interviewed, Markham said, are: H. Charles Carl III of the Romney law firm of Carl Keaton Frazer & Milleson; Lary Garrett with the Moorefield law firm of Garrett and Garrett; and John H. Treadway, Jr., a sole practitioner in Moorefield.

In January, Tomblin selected Cookman, who served as prosecutor in Hampshire County before becoming a judge in 1992, to fill Walt Helmick’s seat in the state Senate following Helmick’s election as state Agriculture Commissioner in November.

Earlier this year, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Benjamin appointed Senior Status Randolph Circuit Judge to temporarily fill Keadle’s vacancy, and Keadle to temporarily fill Cookman’s.

Should appointees in both circuits choose to retain the seats, they will first have to successfully win a special election in 2014 to fill the unexpired term, and then again in 2016 for the full eight-year term.

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