With First Judicial Circuit Judge Martin Gaughan recuperating from injuries sustained in a fall - and a subsequent hip replacement surgery - former Circuit Judge Arthur Recht has been recalled to active service.
A spokesman for Gaughan's office said the judge fell and broke his hip earlier this week.
"He did undergo a partial hip replacement surgery and he is doing well," she said.
An administrative order issued Wednesday by West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Justice Brent Benjamin indicates Recht is to assume his temporary duties on Nov. 25. He will continue this work until Gaughan or the chief justice deems that assistance is no longer needed.
The order shows Recht is to preside over Gaughan's criminal docket, but will not deal with the treatment courts.
Supreme Court of Appeals Administrative Director Steven Canterbury said Recht had never been trained in the treatment courts process.
"Judge Recht is the smartest man to ever have been in a robe," Canterbury said, "but he has never been trained nor does he have any experience in the treatment courts."
He said Circuit Judge David Sims, who has handled treatment courts in Ohio County, will expand his duties to include Brooke County where Gaughan currently serves.
Canterbury said, "its been arranged for Sims to handle the drug court, mental health with its veterans court division, and juvenile drug court."
"Judge Sims is a former Ohio County Commissioner and he embraces the treatment courts," Canterbury said. "He has trained and worked with Judge Gaughan in those areas.
He said the Northern Panhandle has led the state in development of the treatment courts.
"We have 33 drug courts around the state and it all started in the Northern Panhandle with Judge Gaughan and former chief probation officer James Lee," Canterbury said. "The state owes them a tremendous debt of gratitude for the amount of money they have saved and for the number of lives they turned around."
Gaughan's health problems began in December of 2011 after he had a stroke while visiting Charleston. He returned to the bench in June 2012.