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New judge takes bench for 23rd circuit

CHARLES TOWN – Michael Lorensen was sworn in as the newest judge on the 23rd Circuit bench on Friday by Chief Judge David Sanders, following his appointment by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in November to replace Gina Groh, who was named last year to serve on the U.S. District Court.

Lorensen he was excited by the opportunity to work in a public setting.

Michael Lorensen

Michael Lorensen

“It’s something that I’ve been waiting for and preparing myself for for a long time,” said Lorensen, a partner at Bowles, Rice, McDavid, Graf & Love PLLC. “I’ve done a couple things for the Supreme Court that have been very rewarding, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be of service.”

Following a 23rd Circuit tradition, Lorensen will preside over all abuse and neglect, delinquency, and juvenile cases.

He said the shift from work at a private law firm to a state judgeship will involve a “learning curve,” but said he is willing to put in the extra effort that will be needed during his transition.

“To practice law is a privilege,” Lorensen said. “We all have a meaningful profession because the system works, and my desire is to see the system work. That’s what I’m committed to — to put in the time to see that the system works. My goal is to get things heard in a timely fashion.”

A Martinsburg resident, Lorensen said he will preside primarily in Berkeley County, though he will also be responsible for the docket in Morgan County.

Sanders expressed confidence in Lorensen’s ability to fulfill his duties on the bench. “He is just an outstanding lawyer, a lawyer’s lawyer,” Sanders said. “I don’t think we could have had a better pick for a judge here. All the judges are looking forward to working with him.”

A public investiture ceremony will be held for Lorensen at 4 p.m. on Jan. 10 at the Martinsburg Judicial Center.

Immediately following Lorensen’s swearing in, the oath of office was also administered to Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Ralph Lorenzetti, who will begin his second term in office next month.

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