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The Martinsburg Journal - "Court candidates speak at forum"

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Location: Charles Town, WV


The Martinsburg Journal - "Court candidates speak at forum"

The four Democratic candidates running for the two seats on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals at stake in this year's election traveled to Charles Town Sunday for a forum sponsored by the Jefferson County Organization of Democratic Women.

Each of the four candidates were given five minutes to speak to those in attendance and then entered a 25-minute, question-and-answer period with the crowd.

The four candidates were Margaret L. Workman of Kanawha County, Elliott E. "Spike" Maynard of Kanawha County, Bob Bastress of Monongalia County and Menis E. Ketchum of Cabell County.

Workman was born in Charleston, graduated from West Virginia University, previously served as circuit judge and was the first woman elected to the Supreme Court in 1988.

"I would like to bring the Supreme Court back down to these simple concepts —fairness, integrity and hard work," Workman said. "One of the good things about me is that I have 18 years of judicial experience and hundreds and hundreds of written opinions ...You don't have to guess what kind of judge I am. There is a long written record. What that records will reflect is that I believe in giving everybody their fair day in court."

Maynard earned his law degree from West Virginia University and also previously served as a circuit judge in the 13th circuit. He was elected to the Supreme Court in 1996, serving as chief justice in 2000 and 2004. He is currently serving as chief justice.

"It's important for you who sits on the court because the decisions of courts everywhere affect things very dramatically. Whether or not our streets are safe is also determined by the courts and I am very proud to say that West Virginia has the lowest crime rate in the nation," Maynard said. "I have a record also. I've been on the court for 12 years. I was a trial judge before that for about 17 years so I've been a judge for more than 28 years now. My voting record is clean."

Bastress, since 1978, has been a member of the faculty at West Virginia University College of Law where he presently serves as a professor. His teaching is focused on constitutional law.

"Teaching gives me an opportunity to engage in extensive public service, public service that I would not have been able to do in private practice," Bastress said. "I think West Virginians deserve Supreme Court justices who have integrity, judgment, a sense of fairness and a legal ability to deliver on those other qualities, and to handle the difficult legal questions that come before the court."

Ketchum attended Ohio University and later received a law degree from West Virginia University College of Law in 1967. After graduating, he joined his father in the practice of law. He first called for the creation of an appellate court in the Eastern Panhandle, citing the Judicial Reorganization Act, an amendment to the Constitution that grants the authority to create more appellate courts.

"The Eastern Panhandle needs an appellate court," he said. "If anybody is going to lead the fight or the push for appellate courts for people who are five hours away from Charleston it has to be the Supreme Court. I'm going to push for additional appellate courts for the counties that are a long ways from Charleston."

He also said he was more qualified than the other candidates.

"Why am I qualified? I've been a lawyer for 40 years. I have a lot more experience. I have tried more cases with jury verdicts than all the other candidates combined," he said.


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