Nobody said being a judge was easy, but at least one judge claims his work on the bench gave him a bad heart and he wants the state to pay him for it.

Judge Pierre Dostert, a one-time Washington area attorney who recently was granted medical leave from the circuit court in Jefferson County, W.Va., is fighting for disability benefits, claiming that job-related stress gave him a heart problem.

The state's workman's compensation commissioner recently dismissed Dostert's claim, finding insufficient evidence that Dostert has heart disease or that his work was the cause of any serious health problems. Dostert is appealing that ruling.

Dostert was defeated this year in his reelection bid and he is ineligible for judicial retirement benefits because he is 50 and has served only eight years on the circuit court.

He would be entitled to $321 in weekly benefits if he can convince authorities of his medical claim.

Paul Crabtree, administrator for the state Supreme Court, said the chief justice granted Dostert's application for medical leave in July. Dostert has "a possibly life-threatening problem with his heart that could be exacerbated by continued duties on the bench," Crabtree said.

But the courts have taken no position in the dispute over Dostert's medical claim.

"Our posture is that we have not resisted his claim," Crabtree said. "We have forwarded favorable information to the proper authorities on his behalf. But that doesn't mean we're taking sides."