Court nominees forwarded to Justice

PARKERSBURG — The Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission Friday forwarded nine nominees to the governor for two vacancies on the West Virginia Supreme Court.

The appointees will serve until a special election in November to fill the unexpired terms.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jim Justice has scheduled a press conference to discuss issues about the Supreme Court for 11 a.m. today in the Governor’s Reception Room in the Capitol.

Nominated for the first vacancy, in alphabetical order, were: former House Speaker Timothy P. Armstead, Stephen R. Crislip of Charleston, Robert J. Frank of Lewisburg and D.C. Offutt Jr. of Barboursville.

Nominated for the second vacancy, also in alphabetical order, were: Gregory B. Chiartas of Charleston, James Victor Flanagan of Charleston, U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, William Schwartz of Charleston and Martin P. Sheehan of Wheeling.

Armstead and Offutt are candidates for Division 1 in the special election. Frank, Jenkins, Schwartz and Sheehan are candidates for Division 2.

“Each candidate possesses significant talents to offer to our Court. We believe that our judiciary is in a period of unparalleled scrutiny,” said a letter to Justice from Debra Scudiere, chairman of the commission.

“This commission has concerns about public perceptions surrounding the court. These appointments, while relatively short in terms of period of service, will have a potentially significant impact on our court based on its calendar,” she said.

The first vacancy was created when Menis Ketchum resigned in July. He pleaded guilty to charges in a federal information accusing him of wire fraud over the personal use of a state vehicle and fuel card.

The second vacancy occurred with the resignation of Robin Davis, who resigned earlier this month after the House of Delegates approved the articles of impeachment against her and Justices Allen Loughry, who has been suspended, Margaret Workman and Beth Walker. Impeachment proceedings will start in September in the Senate.