Becoming a judge is a dream come true for Debra Scudiere.
“I’ve always tremendously admired good judges,” she said. “To me, that’s the epitome of community service.”
Scudiere was appointed as a Monongalia County Circuit Court Judge by Gov. Jim Justice on March 6 to replace Judge Russel Clawges, who retired at the end of January after 22 years on the bench.
Scudiere, 64, said Clawges has reached out to her and the two have talked for hours about the docket she will inherit and how things are done. Chief Judge Susan Tucker and Judge Phillip Gaujot have also both reached out to express their willingness to help.
Their actions and offers of help have put Scudiere at ease as she transitions to the new job — which she expects to start in early April, she said.
“I feel like I’m walking into a positive situation,” Scudiere said.
After finishing her undergrad at WVU, the Greenbrier County native taught French and English at Union High School in Monroe County for a few years before coming to WVU College of Law and earning her law degree.
Scudiere said she’s only worked at two firms in her career; Furbee, Amos, Webb & Critchfield and Kay Casto and Chaney, where she’s spent roughly the last 20 years.
“I expect to be challenged every single day,” Scudiere said of her new job.
Helping her through the challenge, will be her staff, a secretary, law clerk and court recorder. Scudiere said she decided to keep the people hired by Clawges — including Robin Bailey, administrative assistant.
Bailey and Scudiere have a history — she was secretary for both Clawges and her incoming boss when the two held side-by-side offices at Furbee, Amos, Webb & Critchfield.
Bailey said Scudiere is easy to work for and has a professional demeanor. She said she’s excited to stay on and help with the transition — incoming judges are under no obligation to keep current staff members.
“I always say I do the, and this is a word I made up, ations — litigation mediation and arbitration,” Scudiere said.
Litigation is all about representing one side and trying to win, mediation is helping two opposing sides come to an agreement and arbitration involves listening to the facts and making a decision about a case — essentially a private judge, Scudiere said.
Mediation requires one to be a good listener; a skill also required of judges, Scudiere said.
“You really have to be attuned to how both sides are looking at things,” she said.
Getting along with people in a new job isn’t Scudiere’s top concern, — though she said she loves interacting with people — making good decisions as a judge is.
“I kind of think that in a way you almost should never lose that fear of getting things right.”