Ohio County Circuit Judge James Mazzone Will Move to the Federal Bench

MAZZONE

WHEELING — Ohio County Circuit Court Judge James P. Mazzone will officially step down from the job on Friday, then take over the position of retiring U.S. Magistrate Judge James Seibert on Sept. 4.

Seibert has served as a federal magistrate since 1985, and said he has no immediate plans in his retirement.

“I’m going to try and do absolutely nothing,” Seibert said Monday. “At least there is nothing that I will have to do.”

A goodbye party for Mazzone, meanwhile, is set for noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday in room 510 at the City-County Building in Wheeling. Long-time administrative assistant Janet Cunningham and law clerk Johnna Hutnick also will be leaving, and accompanying Mazzone to his new job at the federal building.

Cunningham said Mazzone was on the bench all day Monday and not available for comment. She said his court calendar was booked for the remainder of this week as he concludes as many law cases as he can before leaving.

She also expects him to be in the office over the Labor Day weekend, signing any orders that are pending.

Mazzone graduated cum laude from West Virginia University in 1985 with a degree in accounting, and from West Virginia University College of Law in 1988

Seibert obtained a degree in economics from WVU in 1966, and graduated from the WVU College of Law in 1969.

The opioid epidemic in West Virginia has brought about the biggest change in the court, according to Seibert.

“The explosion of the use of narcotics by young people is way beyond sad …. it’s frightening,” he said.

Seibert said the best part of his job has been the people he has worked with in the Federal Building.

“From those above me to those below me, they are hardworking and talented people ,” he said. “It makes it easy to work here.”

And the hardest thing about being judge is doing things you wish you didn’t have to do, according to Seibert.

“I don’t know if there is anything hard about it (being a magistrate judge),” he said. “Sometimes while they are on pre-trial release, people leave me no choice but to put them in jail. It’s not hard, but it is not pleasant.”

Seibert said he plans to write a blog he will call “Hybris” — pronounced as “Hubris,” but spelled the same way it was by the late University of Oklahoma history professor J. Rufus Fears.

Fears often wrote and spoke of “hybris,” defined as outrageous arrogance, excessive pride or self-confidence.

“It will be about people who don’t do what they should,” Seibert said of his future blog.

He said it wasn’t necessary to impart any words of wisdom to Mazzone, who was first elected judge in the First Judicial Circuit in 2000.

“He doesn’t need any advice,” Seibert said. “He knows what he is doing. He has been a judge for 18 years. He doesn’t need my advice on anything.”

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