CHARLESTON – After one year on the bench, Kanawha Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit calls her job very rewarding.
Tabit, who ran for circuit judge 15 years ago and applied for the job when there were vacancies several times, loves what she is doing and said the job has exceeded her expectations.
“I am loving every minute of it,” Tabit said. “It is a very different role, but it is fun and very rewarding.”
Tabit said her favorite things to do are adoptions and weddings.
“Most of the time, you are seeing people in times of strife, but with adoptions and weddings, those people choose to be there,” Tabit said.
Tabit said she has been in a courtroom all her life, but that presiding over a courtroom is different from being a lawyer.
“I find myself wondering how I would have gone about a case if I had been the attorney, or wondering why the attorney didn’t ask a certain question or went about it a certain way,” Tabit said.
Tabit said the most challenging part of her job is dealing with abuse and neglect cases.
“The subject matter is challenging,” Tabit said. “They make up about 60 percent of the docket and it is tough work, but as a judge, I take it very seriously, as all judges do, and it is some of the most important work that we do.”
Tabit said drugs permeate everything, and it is not just in criminal cases.
“Drugs are everywhere and they touch everything here,” Tabit said. “It’s a big problem and you see it not only in the criminal cases, but civil cases as well.”
Tabit is a Charleston native. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Marshall University in 1983 and her law degree from West Virginia University College of Law in 1986.
Tabit filled the vacancy left by Judge Paul Zakaib when he retired Aug. 31, 2014 after nearly 30 years on the bench. Zakaib was made a senior status judge so he could continue hearing cases until Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin chose a replacement.