MARTINSBURG – One of the state's veteran circuit judges is retiring next month.
Berkeley Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes has notified Gov. Jim Justice of his plans to retire Jan. 31. He works in the 23rd Judicial Circuit, which covers Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties.
Wilkes, 62, said he plans to continue serving as a senior status judge and work with the state's Business Court Division, of which he is the chairman.
Wilkes is in the middle of his fourth eight-year term on the bench.
On Dec. 20, the state Supreme Court announced that Wilkes had been named to leadership positions on two subcommittees of the national Business and Corporate Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association Business Law Section. He said he will continue in those roles.
“Judge Wilkes has long been dedicated to building West Virginia’s Business Court Division into a model program,” state Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman said in a news release. “His most recent ABA appointments demonstrate that his hard work is paying off with national recognition for him and our judiciary.”
The Business Court Division is designed to handle complex commercial litigation between businesses. It consists of up to seven active or senior status circuit court judges appointed by the Chief Justice, with the approval of the Supreme Court.
“I always appreciate the opportunity to showcase the Business Court Division nationally,” Wilkes said.
He represents West Virginia’s Business Court Division on the national level in the American Bar Association Business Law Section. The section is made up of business court judges, retired business court judges, and complex civil litigators from across the country.
Alternative Dispute Resolution is the use of methods, such as mediation and arbitration, to resolve a legal dispute, instead of traditional litigation leading to a trial. In complex civil cases between businesses, such methods may save both the parties and the court system time and resources.
“West Virginia’s Business Court Division continues to be on the cutting edge of efficient resolution of complex commercial disputes,” Wilkes said.
Wilkes was on the ballot in November for one of two seats on the Supreme Court. He drew 13 percent of the vote for the Division 1 race, receiving almost 66,000 votes.
Justice will ask the state Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission to interview applicants to fill Wilkes' seat on the circuit court.