Kanawha County lost a judicial giant Monday when Circuit Judge Charles King died. He was 73.
A Charleston native and West Virginia University alumnus, King served as an officer in the U.S. Army, receiving an honorable discharge at the rank of captain. He was elected Kanawha County prosecutor in 1984, and served four years, successfully running for circuit court judge in 1988. King was reelected each time he was on the ballot, most recently in 2016.
King’s legacy is one of fair jurisprudence, even temperament — with an occasional lean toward levity — and the utmost respect for the law, to which all good judges aspire. He also had a strong, positive influence on the legal community, from attorneys to justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court.
“He had a great legal mind and wonderful sense of humor, and he was a very good person. His many years of public service as prosecutor and judge were his life’s work, and he will be greatly missed,” Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman said in a written release. Workman was a circuit judge in Kanawha County when King served as prosecutor.
Supreme Court Justice John Hutchinson added, “For the last 25 years, I have considered Judge Charlie King to be a friend as well as a colleague. His death creates a significant void in the judicial system in the state of West Virginia. Judge King was a leader in the judicial system and was noted for his intellect and good humor.”
Before stepping down as chief justice earlier this year, King was not only dealing with his docket but also keeping the courts running safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an unenviable task.
With the loss of King, Kanawha County also loses decades of practical experience and institutional knowledge. His will be large shoes to fill.