John C. Yoder

John C. Yoder (January 9, 1951 – June 9, 2017) was an American lawyer, business entrepreneur, WV State Senator and WV Circuit Court Judge.

John C. Yoder
Judge of 23rd Circuit Court of West Virginia
In office
January 1, 2009 – June 9, 2017
Member of the West Virginia Senate
from the 16th district
In office
January 12, 2005 – January 14, 2009
Serving with John Unger
Preceded byHerb Snyder
Succeeded byHerb Snyder
In office
January 13, 1993 – January 8, 1997
Succeeded byHerb Snyder
Personal details
Born(1951-01-09)January 9, 1951
Newton, Kansas, U.S.
DiedJune 9, 2017(2017-06-09) (aged 66)
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)T. Irene Sanders (1983-1991)
ResidenceHarpers Ferry, West Virginia

Born in Newton, Kansas, Yoder received his B.A, degree from Chapman College and his J.D. degree from the University of Kansas School of Law. Yoder also received his master's degree in business administration (MBA) from the University of Chicago. At 26 years old Yoder won an election against a much older incumbent judge and served as a Kansas District Court judge from 1976 to 1980—Yoder was the youngest person ever elected as judge in the United States.

Yoder was selected and served 1980-1981 as a judicial fellow with the United States Supreme Court and subsequently served (1981-1983) as special assistant to the Chief Justice (Burger) of the United States Supreme Court. He then served (1983-1984), at the appointment of President Ronald Reagan, as the first director of the Asset Forfeiture Office within the United States Department of Justice. NOTE: In 2014 Yoder and Brad Cates, who served as director following Yoder, wrote an op-ed published in the Washington Post in which they said about the asset forfeiture program they created, "The program began with good intentions but having failed in both purpose and execution, it should be abolished....It is unreformable."

Yoder lived in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. In 1990 Yoder ran as the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller and lost the election, but received a higher percentage of votes than any other candidate running against an incumbent that year. From 1992 to 1996 and from 2004 to 2008, Yoder served in the West Virginia State Senate and was a Republican. Yoder was also a practicing attorney and business entrepreuer. In 2010, Yoder was elected to the West Virginia Circuit Court and was re-elected in 2016 and was serving on the court at the time of his death.

In 2012, Yoder ran for a seat on the West Virginia Supreme Court and lost the election.[1][2][3][4] However, by running in statewide elections (1990 and 2012) while residing in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, Yoder opened the door for other statewide candidates from the easternmost counties of WV.

Yoder died June 9, 2017, of complications following a second surgery to replace his aortic heart valve which was first replaced five years earlier (2012).[5]


  1. ^ Circuit Judge John Yoder dies
  2. ^ West Virginia Senate Resolution 43 1996-The Honorable John C. Yoder
  3. ^ West Virginia Judiciary Circuit Court Judges master list-biographical sketch of John C. Yoder
  4. ^ – John Yoder
  5. ^ VanReenen, Danyel (June 13, 2017). "Judge John C. Yoder: A life remembered". The Journal. Retrieved June 13, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
Party political offices
Preceded by
John Raese
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from West Virginia
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
Betty Burks