Margaret Workman and siblingsMargaret Workman has a permanent place in West Virginia state history as the first woman elected to statewide office. She was elected to the W. Va. Supreme Court of Appeals in 1988.
Margaret's West Virginia roots go deep. She was born in Charleston, West Virginia, the daughter of a coal miner whose ancestors were among the first settlers of Boone County. Her father, Frank Eugene Workman, was born in Peytona and later moved to Charleston, where he became a Charleston City firefighter. Her mother, Mary Emma Thomas-Workman, was born in South Charleston, West Virginia. She was a stay-at-home mother until Frank became disabled, at which time she went to work as a clerk in the W. Va. Department of Natural Resources.
Margaret attended Kanawha County public schools and was the first in her family to go on to college. She worked her way through college and law school, graduating from W. Va. University in 1969. Then, at a time when only a few women attended law school, she earned her law degree at the West Virginia University College of Law in 1974.
After law school, Workman served as assistant counsel to the majority of the United States Senate Public Works Committee. She returned to West Virginia to work as a law clerk to the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit. In 1976, while working for U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph, she served as an advance person in the Carter Presidential Campaign, and later worked on the campaign staff of Senator Jay Rockefeller. She then opened her own law office in Charleston.
In 1981, then-Gov. Rockefeller, appointed Margaret to the Kanawha County Circuit Court in 1981. She ran for the unexpired term in 1982 and the full term in 1984. As a Circuit Judge, Workman inherited West Virginia's largest backlog of cases and during her tenure on the court, reduced it to the lowest level in the judicial circuit. She held more jury trials during her time as a Circuit Court Judge than any other Circuit Court judge in the state during the same period.
In 1988, Justice Workman was elected to the W. Va. Supreme Court of Appeals, becoming the first woman ever elected statewide to any office. To learn more about her record on the Supreme Court, turn to The Supreme Court Record page.
Margaret is the mother of three college-aged young adults, and continues to be involved in church and community activities.
While a sitting Judge, she visited every prison and secure juvenile correctional facility, including the maximum security division of Moundsville. Then-Warden Birdenkircher commented at that time that she was one of the few West Virginia judges who had ever visited the prison.
As a Supreme Court Justice, she also visited many domestic shelters around the state in an effort to learn more about how the court system could be more effective in addressing domestic violence. She spent the night in the Raleigh County Domestic Violence shelter in order to learn first-hand what victims of domestic violence experienced. Justice Workman commented, "I have learned so much more from the women who have taken refuge in shelters about how the court system could improve its response to domestic violence than I could ever have learned from experts.