FSP Columnist spends time with judicial champion – Judge Alfred E. Ferguson

30 Dec

December 30, 2022

Mark Caserta is an opinion columnist and editor for Free State Patriot


Judge Alfred E. Ferguson has served Cabell County in the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court for over 46 years.

It was a superb day for the first day of doe hunting season!  My friends and I had decided to take advantage of this unseasonably warm day in December in a tree stand in the woods of Wayne County, WV.

Now, being a rookie huntsman, I don’t claim to know much about deer hunting, but I do know they have an amazing auditory range.  I’m sure the fact I couldn’t stop asking questions of my hunting partner was a contributing factor in us leaving the tree stand empty-handed.  But only empty-handed in terms of harvesting a deer! I certainly didn’t leave empty-handed considering the memorable experience of conversing with a legendary defender of truth and justice for over 60 years, Judge Alfred E. Ferguson. 

Born and raised in Cabell County, Judge Ferguson graduated from Marshall University in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, subsequently earning a law degree from West Virginia College of Law in 1962.    Prior to being appointed to the bench, Judge Ferguson served 1 year as Assistant Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney and 2 years as Divorce Commissioner.  Judge Ferguson was also a lawyer in a private practice for fifteen years.

In 1977, then Governor John D. Rockefeller IV appointed him to the bench in the Sixth Judicial Court from which he has served the people of Cabell County for more than 46 years.

Judge Ferguson has also served his community as a part-time instructor at his alma mater, Marshall University, teaching criminal, juvenile, civil and divorce law for more than 20 years. He is a former member of the Judicial Investigation Commission and was the first presiding judge on the first Juvenile Drug Court established in West Virginia.  Additionally, Judge Ferguson has often been appointed to serve on the Supreme Court in place of a justice who was recused from a case.

In a campaign questionnaire, Judge Ferguson described the competencies required for his job. “A fair temperament, along with open-mindedness, courtesy, courage, firmness, compassion, ethics, and plain common sense are the most important traits a judge must have,” Judge said, “It’s essential a judge must be able to communicate with counsel, jurors, witnesses and all parties involved in a proceeding.”

One would think that years of experience in the judicial system would desensitize anyone to a degree, inadvertently, if not subliminally, causing them to become a bit callous in the face of seemingly increasing, often repeated transgressions.  But nothing could be further from the truth, with Judge Ferguson.

While adhering to the letter of the law, Judge Ferguson’s goal is to be the catalyst for positive change. He seeks to mentor, if not minister, to those who face judgement in his courtroom.  To the degree applicable, he seeks to guide defendants toward making better life choices, despite their past behaviors.

 I personally know individuals who, after receiving a fair sentence in Judge Ferguson’s courtroom, were able to transcend their past iniquities and become contributing individuals in society as a result of his circumspect, sensical approach in the courtroom.  

I listened to Judge Ferguson as he described how he wanted repeat offenders to understand their purpose in life and that their calling is to be much more than they have chosen to be.  They need only make better choices.

Over the years, Judge Ferguson has proven his determination to make decisions within the boundaries of the law while doing everything within his power to serve the best interest of the community AND the individual.

He is, in my humble opinion, a judicial hero.

Many ask Judge Ferguson if he intends to retire at the end of his term, in 2 years.  I humbly believe if any member of the judiciary deserved a lifetime appointment, Judge Ferguson does.

I suppose it’s a moot point, considering voters have opted to issue the judge his lifetime appointment at the polls.

Government, by the people, at its finest!

Thank you, Judge Ferguson for your service and the judicial legacy you are still building from behind the bench.

Well done, thou good and faithful servant!

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