EDITORIAL: A Judge for All Seasons: John Yoder for State Supreme Court

HNN Staff
Judge Yoder, center, at the Morgan County Courthouse Grand Opening
Judge Yoder, center, at the Morgan County Courthouse Grand Opening

Often, we get very choosy about the kind of men and women we want to lead us in public office. 

On balance, that is a good thing.  We want to choose from among our best citizens, who have enough life experience to be competent for the job.  But we may be searching for perfection, too.

How many times have you heard yourself or another person say during campaign season, "Well, I really like Candidate X, but I wish he had better answers."  Or, "She handles herself well, but does she really have relevant experience for this position?"

Circuit Judge John Yoder (R-Jefferson) is one of the few political candidates this year whose background and life experience is so well-rounded that such questions rarely arise.  Everyone can find something about Yoder that they like.

For legal eagles, Yoder is one of them: a lifelong man of the law, who knows what it's like to run a law practice in West Virginia.  Yoder took his profession seriously, realizing that the law is not primarily a means to make a good living but a calling.  So when African-American residents of Jefferson County needed quality legal counsel for some civil rights complaints, Yoder was glad to take their cases.

For those in the faith community, Yoder's religious background scores points and with a variety of believers and even non-believers.  Yoder was raised in a Mennonite family, and while West Virginia doesn't boast many Mennonites, we do honor the solid character and sincere beliefs this Christian denomination holds. 

Yoder brings these beliefs to his work as a judge but not in a pushy way.  Rather, his beliefs seem to reinforce the notion that each person before him as a judge deserves fair treatment.

Then there is John Yoder, public servant.  Yoder served two terms in the State Senate, and was known as an independent thinker.  He says that his eight years in the State Senate confirmed in him a key thought that he brings to the bench:  the need for legislators to legislate and judges to stick to the Constitution. 

Unlike many judges and justices who succumb to the temptation of legislating from the bench, Yoder will have none of it.

If every judge and justice approached the law with the respect Judge John Yoder does, confidence in our courts and in the rule of law would increase dramatically.  Being a judge is a significant responsibility;  in fact, one would be hard pressed to name a position in our society, except for doctors, where an individual holds the lives of others in their hands more than a judge does.

Because Judge John Yoder looks at every case before him as a unique situation with real people, we believe he would make a fine addition to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.   Give him your vote on Tuesday; it will be one of your best decisions as a citizen this election year.


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