West Virginia's Judicial Vacancy Advisory Committee has selected five candidates they believe are best qualified to be the next 1st Judicial Circuit Court judge.
Eight candidates applied for appointment to the judge's seat left vacant by the retirement of Judge Arthur Recht on Jan. 31, and the committee interviewed all eight throughout the day Wednesday.
On Thursday, members sent to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin the names of five candidates they recommend for the job. On the list are former U.S. Attorney Betsy Steinfeld-Jividen; federal public defender Brendan S. Leary; lawyer Thomas C. McCarthy Jr.; and two current Ohio County officeholders - Commissioner David Sims and Prosecutor Scott Smith.
Also interviewing before the committee were Ohio County Family Court Judge William Sinclair, and attorneys William Cipriani and William Galloway.
The committee had 90 days - or until the end of this month - to get their recommendations to Tomblin. Current statutes, though, gives Tomblin no timeline for making his decision. The West Virginia's Judicial Vacancy Advisory Committee was created in 2010 to assist West Virginia's governor in filling vacant judicial seats.
Members of the committee include Chairwoman Debra Scudiere of Morgantown, Don Wagenheim of Wheeling, W. Kent Carper of Charleston, Doug Hardman of Huntington, Burt Ketchem of Huntington, Kenny Perdue of Fairmont, Steve Robey of Charleston and Charles S. Trump IV of Berkeley Springs.
Scudiere said the committee is required to send two to five names to the governor after they interview for judicial appointments.
"After deliberations, we felt it was appropriate to give him five names," she said. "It was a very strong group, and we had a good day of interviews and chats. It was a hard decision. But in the end, we were very pleased with what we could offer to the governor."
Smith is running unopposed in 2012 for re-election as Ohio County prosecutor on the Democrat ticket, while Worthy Paul filed as a Republican in the race. Sims also is unopposed this year for the Democrat nomination to his current Ohio County commission seat, but he faces a challenge in the November general election from Republican Patty Levenson.
If either Smith or Sims gets the appointment, the Ohio County Democratic Executive Committee would need to appoint a candidate to replace them on the ballot.