Judge Robert E. Richardson has been designated as Chief Judge of West Virginia’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit for 2024, marking the sixth year he has served in that capacity. The chief judge has the responsibility of managing the day-to-day administrative business of the court, including supervising employees and workflow, and ensuring compliance with all West Virginia judiciary policies. Certain types of cases are also assigned by law to the chief judge for resolution. The Eleventh Circuit includes both Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties.
“I am honored to serve our community as Chief Judge of the Circuit Court and am proud of what we have been able to accomplish in recent years,” said Judge Richardson. “Despite increasing workloads and the special difficulties associated with COVID-19 outbreaks, we have not wavered in our commitment to the fair administration of justice. The coming year will present new challenges and opportunities, as we continue to deal with the ongoing drug epidemic and its impact on the courts and on families throughout the region.”
To address the high number of drug-related child abuse and neglect cases before the circuit court, Judge Richardson noted that efforts are well underway to initiate a family treatment court program within the circuit, with operations expected to begin within the next few months. Family treatment court programs are designed to assist parents in accessing substance abuse treatment in a more timely and effective manner, and to provide greater supervision for families participating in the program; their goal is to permit children to return home safely with their parents at a potentially faster rate than through traditional abuse and neglect court proceedings, and to ensure that fewer children experience subsequent maltreatment and return to foster care.
“Child abuse and neglect cases make up a significant part of the circuit court’s docket,” Judge Richardson said. “I want to thank my colleague, Judge Jennifer Dent, for her work in developing our circuit’s family treatment court program. While this program will require extra work on the part of judges and others within the court system, I am confident that we will see better results for children involved in these cases.” Judge Richardson is also currently serving on an advisory group established by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals under the leadership of Chief Justice Tim Armstead, to identify ways to attract and retain a greater number of qualified guardians ad litem to represent children in abuse and neglect cases.
Judge Richardson was appointed circuit judge in 2014 to complete the unexpired term of retiring Judge Joseph Pomponio, and then elected for a full eight-year term in 2016. For a period of 27 years prior to taking the bench, he engaged in a wide-ranging law practice, representing individuals and small businesses in both litigation and transactional matters. During portions of that time, he also taught as an adjunct professor at the West Virginia University College of Law and at the Georgetown University Law Center.