CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Five people hope to fill the unexpired term of retired Putnam County Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding. All believe they are capable of bringing efficiency and fairness to the court.
Spaulding left the bench at the end of last year after announcing he had Lou Gherig's disease. There are four more years left on his term.
Three Democrats and two Republicans will be on the ballot in the May primary. All five sat down with the Daily Mail editorial board Tuesday. (For an archived version of a live blog from the session, CLICK HERE.)
Edward Eagloski, 53, is a former circuit judge. He served from 2001 to 2009 but lost his seat to Philip Stowers. One of two Republicans vying for that party's nomination, Eagloski is a Hurricane resident and currently is in private practice.
Eagloski said, "I believe my record stands for itself. I was a fair and impartial judge."
Republican Joseph K. Reeder is a 46-year-old attorney who is a former partner and associate in several Charleston law firms. He lives in Hurricane and now practices law in Putnam County.
Reeder said, "I believe I have the broadest experience of all the candidates. I've been doing more family law and criminal law now, but I have a wide variety of cases and that's my best qualification."
Democrat David Hill, 67, of Culloden has been Putnam County Deputy Land Commissioner and a mental health hygiene examiner since 1985. He has a private law practice.
Hill said, "I have 38 years experience in the legal field, and would like to continue in the area of justice."
Attorney Rosalee Juba-Plumley, 52, is also a Democrat and lives in Poca and maintains a solo law office.
She said, "I handle many juvenile cases, and these are the things circuit court typically deals with. And I have a knowledge of the Putnam County court system."
J. Robert Leslie is a partner at Tyree, Embree & Leslie and was a 2008 candidate for Putnam County Commission. The 46-year-old is a Hurricane resident.
Leslie told the panel, "I try cases all over the state, but if elected, I would bring the experience I've learned also out of state. I want to put my ample trial experience to work as judge."
Each of the candidates endorsed recent changes to the appellate court and said they believe it will result in a more efficient state Supreme Court.
"There were many cases they should have heard, but they said, no we're just too busy," Hill said. "They would pick and choose cases they like, but business deserves their day in court, not just criminal cases."
Juba-Plumley said it was obvious the justices were overworked by the slowdown in decisions.
Eagloski said, "Now they give quick, concise decisions as to why a case might be dismissed. It's helpful. It's another insight for circuit judges, another tool."
Leslie said he thinks the changes will result in more oversight of the circuit court.
All said additional changes might be looked at by the Legislature, but the costs should be weighed.
Reeder said, "It could require more judges, more space. All that comes at a cost."
The candidates said they consider Putnam County residents to be quite civic-minded and willing to be jurors. But they said a judge has to be considerate of those unable to serve.