WHEELING – Gov. Jim Justice has appointed Michael J. Olejasz to the 1st Judicial Circuit Court to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James P. Mazzone.
Olejasz is an Assistant Ohio County Prosecuting Attorney. Before that, he was the managing partner of Ferro & Olejasz in Wheeling and a Wheeling police officer.
Last month, the state Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission has provided a list of recommendations to Justice for the position after conducting interviews Oct. 23 and 24. The JVAC had recommended Olejasz, Joseph E. Barki, Joyce D. Chernenko and Elgine Heceta McArdle for the position in the state’s Northern Panhandle covering Ohio, Brooke and Hancock counties. Mazzone stepped down to accept a federal magistrate position.
In October, The West Virginia Record reported that McArdle’s daughter filed a Domestic Violence Petition against her mother in 2011, but it later was rescinded. The incident apparently occurred at a Republican Party meeting, according to the Oct. 22 report on BigLeaguePolitics.com. That story also said McArdle and the daughter both confirmed the incident. McArdle said she “smacked (her) daughter in the mouth” for being a “smartass.”
The story also claims there were witnesses and that the assault “was widely known by leaders in the Republican Party in West Virginia.”
McArdle did not return messages and calls seeking further comment about the incident.
With each judicial vacancy, the JVAC conducts interviews then deliberates before sending a list of the two to five persons it believes are the most qualified candidates to the governor's office.
"Then the governor makes his pick," JVAC Chairwoman Debra Scudiere said. "He can choose from the names that we have offered, or he can make a selection outside that list."
The members of the JVAC are a mix of attorneys and lay members.