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Former Kanawha judge, prosecutor Casey dies

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Patrick Casey, a former Kanawha County prosecutor and longtime circuit judge, died on Tuesday at the age of 85.

Casey served as circuit judge for more than 20 years, and served as prosecuting attorney for several years before that.

All state flags in Kanawha County were to be lowered to half-staff on March 5 and 6, according to a news release from the County Commission. The ceremonial courtroom in the courthouse will be draped with black fabric in his honor, the release states.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger worked as an assistant prosecutor in Casey's courtroom for four years. She called him a mentor.

"He was very complimentary to all young lawyers and tried to instill confidence in us," Berger said.

When Berger was an attorney for West Virginia Legal Aid, she often appeared with clients in divorce cases before Casey.

"He knew that funding was being cut at Legal Aid and he said, 'I'm going to see what I can do about getting you a job with the prosecuting attorney's office,'" Berger recalled.

"I didn't expect anything to come of it. Within a matter of weeks I got the call ... went in for an interview and started in February of 1982."

Casey attended Berger's investiture as a federal judge in 2009.

"From our conversations, I think he had hoped for me to be on the bench before I was even thinking about it," she said.

Former Kanawha County prosecuting attorney Bill Forbes said he tried his first case in front of Casey.

"He was always the smartest guy in the room. He had incredible command of language and logic and had the power of the gavel," Forbes said. "It was his courtroom and he would take it over. He asked you the questions and he would end up getting you where he wanted you."

Forbes said Casey didn't believe in divorce and would often have couples reconciling by the time they left his courtroom.

"He was very friendly. If he hated you, he was nice and polite and he said nice things to you. If he liked you, he said nice things to you and was polite - you never really knew where he stood," Forbes said. "He had his own style."

Retired Charleston attorney Bill Mohler recalled Casey being a storyteller.

"He was a great talker," Mohler said. "A lot of times a trial would be delayed while he finished up his story with the jury."

Mohler represented the judge in a 1991 murder case where the judge was requested to recuse himself, after public defenders said he had unnecessary comments regarding the defendant's request for a change of venue.

"I thought that was a compliment," Mohler said of the judge choosing him as his attorney. "He was a Democrat and I'm a Republican but he didn't hold that against me," he said with a laugh.

"He was a good judge, fair. I tried a lot of cases before a lot of judges and every now and then they'd hold me in contempt, but he never did."

"Judge Casey was the epitome of a circuit judge," County Commissioner Hoppy Shores said in Thursday's news release. "He wanted to make sure he understood all sides of a case and applied the law as accurately and fairly as possible to make sure all parties involved received a just verdict."

Commission President Kent Carper said in the release that he often called Casey for advice on legal matters.

"He was a tremendous person who was always so giving of his time and talents. He was a great role model for all public servants," Carper said.

A viewing will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home in Charleston. A funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral.

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


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