HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — Families following in each other’s footsteps is not uncommon, but it isn’t every day a retiring judge gets to swear in her sister.
A family legacy continues today in Huntington as Municipal Court Judge Cheryl Henderson officially retired from her post, and passed the gavel to her sister, Gail Henderson-Staples.
“I’ve been serving as a Municipal Court judge for five years. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to serve this City of Huntington,” Henderson says. “My sister Gail is going to be taking over the reins, so to speak.”
Gail Henderson-Staples has a sense of humor about the bizarre situation.
“She’s the oldest, so I do what she tells me,” Henderson-Staples says.
Her joke was somewhat literal this morning, as Cheryl actually got to swear in her younger sister.
Cheryl and Gail have both been attorneys for decades—40 and 35 years, respectively—at the same practice, Henderson, Henderson-Staples, L.C. Now, Gail will fill the seat on the bench that Cheryl has occupied for the past five years. Cheryl Henderson credits their father with the two sister’s success.
“Our father instilled in us a certain type of having respect for others, being fair, and being diligent about how we show ourselves,” Henderson says.
Gail is confident that she has what it takes to fill her sister’s position on the bench.
“I don’t think it will be difficult after practicing for 35 years, applying facts and law to situations that I’ve been involved with as an attorney,” Henderson-Staples says.
Continuing the family legacy was not the only special thing about today’s ceremony for Cheryl, either. Her son, Justin, drove up from Raleigh, North Carolina to surprise her.
“I’m just extremely proud of her, I know she said 40 years is a long time to be practicing, and I’m just happy to see her come to the end,” says Justin.
Cheryl also got her own portrait to commemorate her service, to hang forevermore in the courtroom where she presided.
“Whoo! It’s in your face … couldn’t find another picture. But I’m honored to be hanging as I said earlier on the wall with all the judges that preceded me,” says Henderson with a smile.
While Cheryl says that she’ll miss the job and serving her community, she’s looking forward to her retirement.
“It’s time for me to, as they say, hang up my boots and do some other things in life,” says Henderson.
Gail Henderson-Staples is now Huntington’s newest Municipal Court judge, and the turnout in the courtroom proves she will be well-supported by the community throughout her tenure.
The Municipal Court Judges in Huntington are appointed by the mayor and approved by City Council. Sources say that the vote for Henderson-Staples was unanimous.
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