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Reeder sworn in as Putnam Circuit judge

Lawrence Pierce
Retired Judge James Holliday reads Putnam Circuit Judge Joseph Reeder the oath of office during Reeder's investiture ceremony on Tuesday. Reeder's wife, Linda, and sons Samuel and Nicholas stood with him during the ceremony.

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Pointing at photos of former Judges James Holliday and O.C. Spaulding, new Putnam Circuit Judge Joseph Reeder said he has big shoes to fill.

"They are two of the finest we've had," said Reeder, who was sworn in as judge on Tuesday.

Photos of both Holliday and Spaulding hang in what is now Reeder's courtroom.

Reeder, who defeated Democrat Robert Leslie in last month's election, will serve the remainder of Spaulding's term, into 2016. Spaulding retired last year after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. He had been judge for 19 years.

"It's a lot to follow one of the finest judges in West Virginia," Reeder said.

Holliday, who served as circuit judge in Putnam for 16 years, read Reeder the oath of office in front of about 100 people who gathered in his courtroom for the ceremony.

Reeder said he plans to model himself after Spaulding and Holliday and also Judge Phillip Stowers, the Putnam Circuit's other judge. As an attorney, Reeder had cases in front of Spaulding and Stowers.

"When you appeared before Judge Spaulding and Judge Stowers, you always knew you'd be treated fairly, with dignity and respect ... you knew the decision made was reasoned and well thought out," Reeder said.

"People of the county can rest assured that I will work hard every day to ensure I honor that tradition."

Reeder plans to find ways to streamline cases to deal with the county's drug problem, which he says accounts for about 90 percent of crime in the county.

He wants to introduce an adult drug court and focus on ways to reduce recidivism, which usually occurs when convicted felons can't kick their drug habits.

Reeder's wife, Linda, and their two sons, Nicholas, 14, and Samuel, 11, stood with him while he was sworn in. Reeder paused to keep from tearing up while he talked about his wife and the hard work of his family during his campaign.

Reeder earned a law degree from West Virginia University in 1991. Several years ago, he left a Charleston law firm and opened his own in Hurricane, he said.

"I've had the opportunity to represent a number of businesses and individuals in Putnam County," said Reeder. "For some, I became their family lawyer, which is something I considered a privilege and never took lightly."

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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