Micheal M. Cochrane has served as Wyoming County’s prosecuting attorney for more than six years. In that time, he’s worked to make the county a safer place in which to live. He understands just how the opioid crisis has impacted the small, rural county he now calls home and is working to eradicate the problems created by illegal drug abuse.
A 1985 graduate of Man High School, Cochrane spent four years in the U.S. Navy, then earned degrees from Marshall University and Mississippi College of Law.
Where did you grow up? Tell me about it, what was it like when you were growing up?
I grew up on a four-acre spread along the banks of Huff Creek, just two miles from the Wyoming County line, in Logan County.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
I had a great childhood growing up. First and foremost was playing ball – football, baseball, basketball – all the time, either in school or with my friends at home.
At Man High School, in those days, you played football or you were disowned. It was like an expected part of the school schedule. We all loved it.
I learned so many life lessons, I still fall back on now. Coach Tootie Carter taught us to never settle; you can always be better. I think of that all the time now. We can be great, but can also always be better.
How many years have you been an attorney? How many years as prosecutor in Wyoming County?
I’ve been a practicing licensed attorney since 1999 in North Carolina and since 2000 in West Virginia.
I came to the prosecutor’s office with Rick Staton in 2009 and took over (when Staton left) in 2013.
Has the court system changed much over the years you’ve been working?
The technology advance has been incredible in the 20 years I’ve practiced. Nowadays, with texting, emails and instant messaging, you can resolve matters much more quickly than ever thought before. For instance, just yesterday, I resolved a matter on my phone by text, standing in line at the store.
Do you ever miss being just an attorney as opposed to being a prosecutor? Why?
The majority of my professional life has been in public service. From a small medical malpractice firm in Charlotte, I came to Wyoming County in 2002 and worked as an attorney for the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement until I came to work with Rick full-time in 2012, after being a part-time assistant prosecutor beginning in 2009.
I’m prosecutor 24/7. I get calls all hours from police officers, which I, not only don’t mind, but encourage and welcome. If there’s something I need to know, I want to know as soon as possible so I can address it immediately.
It’s become my life for several years now and I can’t remember what life was like before that. So, I don’t believe I miss my life before I was prosecutor here in Wyoming County.
Did you ever work at any other jobs?
I went into the Navy at 18 years old and was a hospital corpsman, stationed at Portsmouth Naval Hospital from 1986-87, and then was assigned to a Marine Corps infantry platoon and company that took me throughout the world from 1988-89.
At Marshall, I worked at the Veterans Administration office in Huntington for four years and, while going to law school, I waited tables at night and on weekends in a hotel restaurant in Jackson, Miss.
What do you enjoy most about your job as prosecutor?
The feeling of success and accomplishment in helping others and assisting in making this county safe, secure and a wonderful place to live.
A lot of people, including some we’ve prosecuted, come up and thank me for helping change their lives for the better with the work we’ve done.
The fact of knowing that I’ve given everything I have to this job and that the results of that have been extremely positive.
What is your least favorite thing about the job?
The devastation and mayhem of what human beings can do to one another, ranging from the violence and finality of a murder scene and all its totality, to a parent not being able take sufficient care of their own children due to their addiction.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life? Why?
A lot of people in life’s journey shape and mold who you ultimately become. Three people stand out the most in my life.
My father, Kenneth Cochrane, who was a Korean War veteran and a 40-year retired coal miner, who recently passed away on Nov.14. My dad taught me the value of hard work, love for country and sacrifice, and the fact that if you want to accomplish something, you have to earn it.
My mom, Madeline Cochrane, taught me kindness and compassion to others and the idea that if you want to accomplish something, no matter how difficult it appears, you can do it.
And my uncle, Randall Samson, who helped send me into the world, really in the military, and was always there with a helping hand, a pat on the back, or a kick in the tail whenever I needed it throughout my life.
How do you hope to make a difference in Wyoming County?
Over the last several years, we’ve all lived the devastation the opioid crisis has done to this part of the state. It’s affected us all at one time or another. As far as crime goes, it’s involved with at least 90 percent of what we see criminally. I want to slay the dragon of what the opioid crisis is and what devastation it’s caused in our communities.
We’ve had great success with our prosecutions on drug dealers over the years. I believe our prosecution numbers with other counties cannot be compared to our accomplishments.
But there’s so much more to do. Pills have been replaced by other substances, mostly methamphetamine, and we are hard at it to eliminate this as we move forward into my next term as prosecutor.
We’ve worked really hard since I’ve been here and the results of success speak for themselves.
And I continue to strive to make this the best prosecutor’s office in the state and that the citizens are proud to continue to live here without fear.
What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?
Sports – all the way. From sideline reporter for 92.7 with Michael Knotts and Tim Clay announcing the county high school football games each Friday night, to watching football, baseball and basketball all year round. Sports is a dominant factor in my private life.
What is the one thing in your life of which you are most proud?
My 22-year-old son, Austin Cochrane, and the fine young man he’s grown up to be is the one thing in life I’m most proud of. He’s such a pleasure and a joy to be around, to not only me, but all people he is around. Austin is a complete quality person, who I’m not only proud to call my son, but a friend and inspiration.
Do you have any advice for those who may want to become an attorney?
Remember that the practice of law is dealing with people and it’s never the amount of money you make. It’s the accomplishment of a job well done, while putting your client, whether in public or private practice, in the best possible position they can be in.
When you retire, how do you want to be remembered?
Someone who gave all he had to accomplish all the goals he set out to do to help make this the finest county in which to live in the state of West Virginia.
Anything you want to add?
I’d like to thank all my family, friends, and all the citizens of this county for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me over the years living and working in this county. There’s nowhere else I’d rather live than in Wyoming County, West Virginia. We have so much here to be proud of and I look so forward to see what lies ahead of us in the future for our county.
With the grace of God, so many wonderful things are ahead of us all here in Wyoming County.