CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice, on Saturday, Aug. 25, appointed Tim Armstead, former speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates, and U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
“Both of these appointees are true conservatives, and both have the honor and integrity we need to restore trust to our highest court. These men have dedicated their lives to serving the people of West Virginia,” Gov. Justice said Saturday, during a small ceremony in the Governor’s Office at the Capitol. More than 25 family and friends, along with media, filled the room for the Saturday announcement.
Speaking of the recent Supreme Court controversies, Justice said West Virginians “lost some level of confidence and some level of trust” in the state’s highest court and the state had suffered a “black eye” on the national level.
With the appointment of Armstead and Jenkins to the court, Justice said West Virginia can start to repair the damage and “show the nation how committed we are as West Virginians to having a solid court. In my opinion, without any question, a conservative court. A court that reflects the strength and the conservative values of our people. That’s what West Virginians are all about … faith-based people, good people, people that know the different between right and wrong. …”
Armstead will fill the Division 1 seat formerly held by Justice Menis Ketchum. Jenkins will fill the Division 2 seat, formerly held by Justice Robin Davis. Armstead has already resigned as Speaker of the House and as a Delegate for the 40th District. Jenkins said Saturday he will resign from the House of Representatives to accept the appointment.
Armstead and Jenkins serve until new justices are elected in a special election to coincide with the general election on November 6. Both appointees have also filed as candidates for their respective seats.
Justice said their willingness to run for the offices was a factor in the selection of Armstead and Jenkins. “We don’t need to be in a state of flux. I wanted someone who was willing to run again,” Justice said, explaining there is no guarantee Armstead or Jenkins will win in November, but appointing candidates who would not run for the seats assured more instability.
Justices Davis and Ketchum both resigned from the court, Their actions came after months of controversy, including a federal investigation and the West Virginia House of Delegates consideration of impeachment proceedings against the justices. Ketchum recently pleaded guilty to a federal charge.
The West Virginia Legislature is currently considering impeachment proceeding again the three remaining justices: Margaret Workman, Beth Walker and Alan Loughry, who is also under federal indictment.
Saturday’s announcement came after West Virginia’s Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission interviewed candidates for the District 1 seat on Thursday and the District 2 seat on Friday. The JVAC submitted their recommendations for both seats to Governor Justice Friday afternoon (Aug. 24).
The list for the Division 1 included: Armstead, Stephen R. Crisp, Robert J. Frank, and D. C. Offutt, Jr.
The list for the Division 2 included: Gregory B. Charts, James Victor Flanagan, Jenkins, William Schwartz and Martin P. Sheehan.
Article provided by the West Virginia Press Association.