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Seven apply for Thornsbury's seat on Mingo court

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Seven people have applied to fill the remainder of Michael Thornsbury's term as Mingo County Circuit Court judge.

Letitia Neese Chafin, Robert H. Carlton, Jonathan Wayne Jewell, Steven Johnston Knopp, Teresa McCune, Glen R. Rutledge II and Mingo Family Court Judge Miki Thompson turned in applications to the governor's office, according to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's spokeswoman.

The deadline to apply was Tuesday.

Members of the state Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission will conduct interviews Dec. 16 in Charleston. The commission will then recommend up to five names to Tomblin, who makes the appointment.

Thornsbury had served as the sole circuit judge in the 30th Judicial Circuit since 1997 and was re-elected to an eight-year term in 2008.

He pleaded guilty in federal court Oct. 2 to conspiring to deprive a drug suspect of his legal rights in a scheme to thwart a federal investigation into the county's sheriff.

The state Supreme Court appointed John Cummings, a senior status judge from Cabell County, to temporarily replace Thornsbury on the Mingo County bench. Thomas McHugh, a retired justice, is assisting Cummings.

Chafin lost a bid last year for a seat on the West Virginia Supreme Court. She works as an attorney in Williamson with her husband, Sen. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo.

Carlton, a Williamson attorney, ran for Mingo circuit judge in 2008, according to a campaign website. The former magistrate and assistant prosecutor also previously campaigned to be a family court judge in Mingo.

Jewell is a longtime public defender in Mingo, according to employees at the courthouse, and has a private law office in Williamson.

Knopp is the municipal judge in Williamson, according to the governor's office, and a member of the Williamson firm, Lambright and Knopp.

McCune is the chief public defender in Mingo County.

Rutledge is an assistant prosecuting attorney in Mingo and the attorney for the county commission. He has a private law firm in Williamson.

Thompson has served as family court judge since 2009, according to her secretary.

Members of the Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission include Morgantown attorney Debra Scudiere; Charleston accountant Steve Robey; Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO; Joyce McConnell, dean of the WVU College of Law; Peter Markham, general counsel for Tomblin's office; State Bar President Harry Deitzler; Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper; former House of Delegates Minority Leader Charles Trump, of Morgan County; Huntington businessman Doug Hardman; Huntington attorney Bert Ketchum; and Wheeling businessman Don Wagenheim.

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


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