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W.Va. family court judge announces re-election bid

January 24, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Family Court Judge William "Bill" Wertman formally announced on Wednesday that he filed for re-election to the bench in West Virginia's growing 24th circuit.

Prior to being elected to a six-year term in 2002, Wertman, a Democrat, served as a family law master since 2000.

In his news release, Wertman said he is "committed to promoting positive communication between parents for the benefit of their children and safe, meaningful contact of children with both parents."

Wertman said he and fellow 24th circuit family court Judge Sally G. Jackson, in conjunction with the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, are currently implementing a pilot project designed to aid parents in high-conflict circumstances.

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Jackson, also a Democrat, has not formally announced her candidacy, but the West Virginia Secretary of State's Web site indicate both she and Wertman filed for the upcoming election on Jan. 16.

On Wednesday, Ireland's office posted the filing of Martinsburg attorney David Greenberg for a newly created family court judgeship in the 24th circuit, which is comprised of Berkeley and Jefferson counties.

The additional judgeship was created last year the West Virginia Legislature to handle the growing case load.

In Berkeley County in 2007, the family court handled 946 domestic filings, which include divorces, custody cases and child support, records show. The court also handled 783 domestic violence cases. The tallies do not reflect contempt or modification filings on ongoing cases.

A former mediator, Wertman said he served as president last year of the state's Family Court Association, which worked to ensure that the 24th circuit would gain a third judge in 2009.

Established in part by a state constitutional amendment ratified in November 2000, the family court system is comprised of 27 circuits. Family court judges were initially elected to six-year terms in 2002 and now will be elected for 8-year terms, like judges on the bench in the state's circuit (trial) courts.

Family Court judges are paid $82,500 annually.

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