W.Va. circuit judge having heart valve replaced

Yoder vows to resume work, campaigning

February 06, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |
  • John Yoder
John Yoder

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge John Yoder expects to undergo heart valve replacement surgery in the next few weeks, but vows to return to the bench and resume his campaign for the state Supreme Court.

“I’m looking forward to feeling better when it’s done,” said Yoder, 61, of Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Yoder said he expects to undergo open-heart surgery toward the end of the month at The George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. 

Retired Circuit Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr. has been assigned to handle Yoder’s caseload in his absence, including a  jury trial scheduled to start next week, according to Yoder.

Yoder said he expects to be able to return to a light workload about three weeks after surgery and be fully recovered after six weeks.

Yoder acknowledged that the surgery would have interfered with his campaign had more than two Republicans filed in the Supreme Court race, but that didn’t happen. Two of the high court’s five seats are on the 2012 election ballot — those held by Justices Robin Jean Davis and Thomas E. McHugh, both of whom are Democrats.

The only other Republican to file in the judicial election was Tucker County native Allen Loughry, a law clerk for the state Supreme Court. 

McHugh is not seeking re-election, and Davis and five other Democratic candidates are vying to be their party’s nominee for the two seats in the May 8 primary.

Yoder said he had hoped to delay the surgery on his aortic valve for a few years, but found out last week that wasn’t possible.

The judge said he has known for about 10 years that surgery would be needed to address a birth defect in his aortic valve. Yoder said he opted to have his defective valve replaced with one from a pig rather than a mechanical valve in surgery that is expected to last several hours. Yoder said he probably will be in the hospital for three or four days.

Yoder, who announced on Facebook that he was undergoing the procedure, told his friends that he appreciated their support and prayers.

“I am expecting to be fully recovered in time to campaign in my race for state Supreme Court this year,” Yoder told them.

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