Armstead sworn in as West Virginia Supreme Court justice

By  | 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WDTV) - UPDATE 09/25/18 7 P.M.

West Virginia has a new Supreme Court justice.

Former House Speaker Tim Armstead was sworn in Tuesday afternoon to serve until a replacement is elected in the Nov. 6 General Election.

Armstead replaces former Justice Menis Ketchum, who resigned before impeachment proceedings began in the House of Delegates earlier this year.

Gov. Jim Justice appointed Armstead and U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins to the court in the aftermath of an investigation into the court's spending practices.

Jenkins, who lost his bid to be re-elected to Congress in the Democratic primary in May, is scheduled to be sworn in on Monday,

He will fill the seat held by former Justice Robin Davis, who resigned following her impeachment by the House of Delegates.

Armstead and Jenkins are both running to retain their seats on the court in November.

UPDATE: 9/24/18 3 P.M.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has dismissed petitions that challenge two of Governor Jim Justice's appointments to fill the court's vacancies.

According to the order, "the Court finds there is no clear right to the relief sought by the petitioners."

The court heard arguments Monday morning. The petition is against former House Speaker Tim Armstead (R) who stepped down from his position to fill the vacancy on the state Supreme Court, Rep. Evan Jenkins (R), West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, and Gov. Justice.

One of the petitions filed is related to Congressman Jenkins' law license. State law requires members of the state Supreme Court to have a law license for 10 years before they can serve on the bench. Jenkins' license was changed to "inactive status" when he joined Congress four years ago. However, he has since changed the license to "active status" and his lawyers argue that because Jenkins has been allowed to practice law in the state for more than 30 years, he is eligible for this role.

The other matter is against Armstead and his involvement in the impeachment hearings regarding the state Supreme Court. The petitioner argued Armstead should not be allowed to fill a seat on the court after casting certain votes during that process.

The court determined Jenkins is fully eligible to be appointed to serve on the bench and fully eligible to be elected by voters in the General Election on Nov. 6.

“Today’s decision is a victory for every West Virginian who’s ready to put a stop to the wasteful spending and misuse of taxpayer dollars," Jenkins stated in a press release following the ruling. "Everyone saw these bogus lawsuits for what they were, partisan attacks trying to deny the voters the opportunity to elect a new justice that’s going to uphold the constitution and apply the law equally and fairly to each and every West Virginian. I appreciate the court’s quick decision that now clears the way for me to get to work right away restoring the public’s trust and confidence on our state’s highest court that the citizens expect and deserve.”

Neither of the men have been sworn in yet.

For now, Armstead will fill a seat vacated by Justice Menis Ketchum who resigned right before impeachment proceedings began in the House of Delegates. Ketchum pleaded guilty to federal charges related to using a state vehicle and a state-issued card for his travel to out-of-state golf outings.

Jenkins will fill a seat vacated by Justice Robin Davis who resigned after being named in articles of impeachment in the House of Delegates. Jenkins ran against Davis for the court in 2000. Jenkins said he will resign from Congress when he takes the bench.

The appointments would last through the General Election, which is Nov. 6. At that point, voters will pick who should fill the vacancies on the Supreme Court.

Justice Allen Loughry II did not participate in the hearing Monday because he is currently suspended. Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justice Elizabeth Walker were also disqualified because of the ongoing impeachment investigation. Judges Russell Clawges Jr., Timothy Sweeney, H. Charles Carl III, and R. Craig Tatterson were on the bench as a temporary assignment.

A petition filed with the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Thursday seeks to remove the temporary appointments of Evan Jenkins and Tim Armstead to the court, and to remove Jenkins' name from the Nov. 6 ballot.

The petition was filed by William K. Schwartz, an attorney and former candidate to fill former justice Robin Davis' seat.

Governor Jim Justice appointed Jenkins to fill Davis' seat and Armstead to fill retired justice Menis Ketchum's seat. Schwartz's petition argues that neither Jenkins nor Armstead meet the qualifications needed to fill the seats.

Schwartz argues that Justice violated the state constitution by appointing Jenkins and Armstead because they are of opposite party of the justices they are replacing. He also argues that Armstead violated the Emoluments Clause, since he took part in voting to investigate the court for impeachment and seeking to fill one of the seats.

He also argues that the constitution prohibits Jenkins from running for the court since he has not practiced law for the entire last decade.

You can read the full petition by visiting the Related Document.

Related Documents