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GINA M. GROH '86 NAMED THIRD FEMALE CIRCUIT JUDGE IN THE STATE
Socrates said, "Knowledge is virtue." For the Honorable Gina M. Groh '86, twenty-third judicial circuit judge, this quote, introduced to her by Dr. Hang Yul Rhee, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Shepherd, has come full circle in her life.

In December 2006, Gina was appointed by Governor Joe Manchin III to serve as the new judge of the 23rd judicial circuit for Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties. She is the third female circuit judge in the state.

A native of Williamsport, Maryland, Gina knew from a young age that she wanted to pursue a career in the field of law. Her father instilled in her and her siblings the importance of getting a good education and made that possible by putting them all through college.

Gina was originally drawn to Shepherd because of its reputation and atmosphere. It was close to home and many of her friends were enrolling too. The idea of having smaller class sizes and more personal attention from faculty made Shepherd the best fit for her.

Commuting to campus from home, Gina was the vice president of her senior class, president of the Young Democrats, co-editor of the Picket, and a McMurran Scholar. Graduating in 1986, Gina earned a bachelor of science in political science with a minor in journalism.

Following her time at Shepherd, Gina went on to earn a law degree at the West Virginia University College of Law. After graduation, she had a civil practice for a few years. She left civil practice to serve as an assistant prosecuting attorney in Berkeley and Jefferson counties for most of the past decade. She then served solely as an assistant prosecutor since July 2002 in Jefferson County.

Since becoming a newly appointed judge, Gina has adjusted well to the division of her time between the three counties. However, she has found it challenging to start an office from scratch. "As an organized person, it has been a challenge to create a new office from the ground up. But, I have a wonderful staff who have been supportive through the process," she said.

Not only has Gina had support from her staff, but also from the other circuit judges. In fact, the state matches new judges with experienced judges to help mentor them. Gina's advisor is Hampshire County Circuit Judge Donald H. Cookman.

Because Gina's position was created and appointed by the governor, she was able to overcome some stereotypes of a judge. "The mind-set is that judges are older men with white hair and this just isn't the case anymore," she said. She will be running for re-election in November 2008 but she's hoping that her name recognition and record will speak for itself.

Helping her in her re-election efforts will be her family--high school sweetheart and husband Stephen V. Groh Sr., an assistant prosecutor in Jefferson County, and the Grohs' two sons, Stephen Jr., 8, and Michael, 2. Coincidentally, Stephen Jr. shares his parents love for law and politics and enjoys attending events with his mother.

In her free time, Gina enjoys "doing what my kids like to do for fun." This includes participating in children/parent Tae Kwon Do kickboxing class called the Little Dragons, playing the piano together, and playing outside in the country.

"This is as good as it gets," Gina said. "I can see myself doing this for a long time into the future."

Jennifer Spataro


Judge Gina M. Groh '86

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