Retiring Judge Stirs Up Controversy in Greenbrier County

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Greenbrier County Circuit Court Judge James Rowe has retired, and his decision not to file for re-election was met with controversy.

Paul Detch has been an attorney in Greenbrier County for more than four decades. As someone who deals with judges on a daily basis, he was surprised by Judge James Rowe’s decision not to file for re-election. Though it wasn’t the decision that he found shocking, it was the way it was approached. 

Both Detch and Judge Rowe confirmed that the decision not to re-file did not come until the last day for filing.

That is what has caused Detch’s negative reaction. He says, “it’s rather difficult for people who know him and have confidence in that office, to believe that someone would leave a decision of this magnitude up to the whim at the last minute.”

Detch says, a lot of times, lawyers will not file to run against a sitting judge because they have to face them everyday in the courtroom, and had people known Judge Rowe was not filing again, the pool of candidates could have been bigger. 

“The public, in my opinion, deserved to be able to have the best members of the Bar to be put forward so that they could make their decision as to what they had,” says Detch. 

Judge Rowe says that his intention was not to keep candidates from running, it was simply a tough decision for him to make. “I had made it very clear to members of the Bar that had asked about my intentions, that I didn’t want to deal with it, it was a struggle,” Rowe explained. 

He says that if filing day was even one day earlier, his name would probably be on that ballot. “I had my paperwork in hand on the way to the post office but in that process of walking up to the post office on Saturday morning I changed my mind and thought ‘it’s really time.'”

Judge Rowe has been appointed as a senior judge, and will continue serving Greenbrier County until a new judge is elected. 

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