RIPLEY – The new year has just started, and for the men and women of the 5th Judicial Circuit, that means some new names and faces will be showing up at the court, including incoming Judge Lora Dyer.

Dyer was elected to the Division 2 seat of the 5th District Court in Jackson County. The seat also includes Calhoun, Mason and Roane counties.

Dyer is a West Virginia native. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 2000 from Marshall University and a law degree from West Virginia University College of Law in 2003.

Her legal career got its start shortly afterward when she interned for former state Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. Albright and later served as a law clerk to 13th Circuit Court Judge James C. Stucky. The next phase of Dyer's career began when she became an assistant prosecuting attorney in Kanawha County, followed by a stint at the law firm of Hendrickson and Long PLLC, where she had the opportunity to gain experience practicing law in a wide range of civil and criminal matters.

She has also served as law clerk to Judge Carrie L. Webster of the 13th Judicial Circuit, and served as general counsel to West Virginia State Auditor Lisa A. Hopkins and Senior Deputy Commissioner of the West Virginia Securities Commission, where she remained until she assumed office on the bench of West Virginia’s 5th Judicial Circuit.

Dyer told The West Virginia Record that those who appear before her should expect her to prioritize objectivity over all else in her courtroom.

"The role of a judge is much more that of a referee,” she said. “Philosophically, the job is not to make law, but to apply the law fairly as written to the individual facts of each case, regardless of personal feelings everyone deserves a fair and impartial hearing of his or her case or controversy and that is what I plan to bring to the court.“

She went on to say that the biggest challenge she expects to encounter as a judge is the drug epidemic that is currently tearing through West Virginia.

“In addition to the increased burden on our justice system relating to the criminal prosecution of drug-related cases, we are seeing a corresponding and tragic increase in abuse and neglect cases of the children involved in such matters,” she said. “In West Virginia, the number of children in foster care grew by 24 percent between 2012 and 2016, according to the State Department of Health and Human Resources’ information provided to the Wall Street Journal, largely due to the opioid epidemic.”

She went on to say that this trend is growing at an alarming rate and putting an impossible strain on the state's foster care system.

“I fear we are reaching a tipping point and will sadly see the return of orphanages,” Dyer added.

Despite these challenges, she is looking forward to the opportunity to serve as judge.

“I am particularly excited about the opportunity to serve my state and West Virginians in such a direct way," she said. "Once settled into the new work routine, I plan to participate in read-aloud programs for children with the schools and libraries of the 5th Judicial Circuit.”

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