Judge Gaughan back on bench

WELLSBURG – First Judicial Circuit Judge Martin Gaughan is back on the job today after undergoing hip replacement surgery related to a fall in November.

“Judge Gaughan is doing well and will be back on the bench tomorrow,” the judge’s law clerk, John Pizzuti, said Thursday.

Today’s return marks the second time Gaughan has recovered from major health issues. He was sidelined for six months – from December 2011 to June 2012 – because of a stroke he suffered while visiting Charleston.

A spokesman for Gaughan’s office said the judge fell and broke his hip in November and had to undergo partial hip replacement surgery. Former Circuit Judge Arthur Recht had been recalled to active service to handle Gaughan’s criminal docket but not his treatment courts duties.

Supreme Court of Appeals Administrative Director Steven Canterbury said Circuit Judge David Sims would handle treatment courts since Recht had never been trained in the process.

Canterbury said Gaughan and former chief probation officer James Lee are responsible for the Northern Panhandle leading the state in development of the treatment courts.

“We have 33 drug courts around the state and it all started in the Northern Panhandle,” Canterbury said. “The state owes them a tremendous debt of gratitude for the amount of money they have saved and for the number of lives they turned around.”

Gaughan, first appointed to the bench in 1995 by then-Gov. Gaston Caperton, is currently serving in his third eight-year term as a circuit judge. His term is up in 2016.