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Supreme Court candidates emerge on first day of filing

August 7, 2018

CHARLESTON — By lunchtime Monday, two Kanawha County circuit judges had been to the Secretary of State’s Office to declare their candidacies for two judicial vacancies.

As of noon, Judge Joanna Tabit had declared her candidacy for the West Virginia Supreme Court, and Circuit Judge Dan Greear had filed his paperwork to be elected to the seat he is filling on an interim basis.

The filing period for the special elections for the two judicial seats opened Monday and runs through Aug. 21.

Charleston attorney Carl Hostler also filed for Supreme Court candidacy on Monday.

Hostler, of Scott Depot, is an attorney with Prim Law. He has 25 years of experience practicing law, including a focus on federal and state criminal defense for adults and juveniles, according to the firm’s website.

Hostler also is general counsel for the West Virginia State Pipe Trades, which represents thousands of welders, pipefitters and plumbers, according to the Prim Law website.

Hostler earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Maryland, and he earned his law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law.

Those vying for the Supreme Court seat are seeking to fill the last two years of Menis Ketchum’s term. Ketchum resigned last month amid a federal investigation and possible impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court justices by the House of Delegates.

In Kanawha Circuit Court, Gov. Jim Justice called a special election in April to fill the vacancy left with the retirement of Jim Stucky, who served on the bench in the capital city for more than 20 years. The governor called the special election for Supreme Court last week, after Ketchum’s resignation became effective.

Both special elections will be incorporated into the Nov. 6 general election.

If a vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court or in any circuit or family court where the departing judge has more than two years left in his or her term, the governor appoints a replacement to serve on an interim basis, with a special election taking place in the next scheduled election.

The timing of Stucky’s retirement and Ketchum’s resignation in this election cycle means the special election will take place during the general election.

If a judge or justice resigns after Aug. 14, or 84 days before the general election, the governor’s appointee will serve a roughly 2-year interim period before the special election takes place during the 2020 primary election.

Those interested in seeking the Supreme Court seat must be at least 30 years old and have practiced law for 10 years. They also must have lived in West Virginia for at least five years.

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