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Jim O’Brien: Judge should be fiscally responsible, apply law fairly

October 3, 2018

This is one of a series of columns written by candidates in contested races in the West Virginia general election on Nov. 6.

I am Jim O’Brien, and I am seeking election to the West Virginia Supreme Court (Division II). I have never run for public office before. I am not a professional politician. Like many, I have been offended by the recent scandals involving the court.

My parents were hard-working West Virginians who grew up in the Great Depression. They taught me the value of a dollar. I have always valued fiscal responsibility. My parents and teachers have taught me moral values that are lifelong guiding principles. A judge is elected to serve the people and not to misuse tax dollars for personal gain and extravagance. A judge should not have to learn these lessons by being either impeached or indicted. I want the opportunity to be a fair, hard-working and honest judge for the people of West Virginia.

I have lived in West Virginia my entire life. I graduated from Wheeling Jesuit University in 1978, and I obtained my law degree in 1981 from West Virginia University. In college, I was inducted into the Jesuit Honor Society, and in law school I was a member of the WV Law Review, where I published two legal articles. After law school, I was a federal law clerk for Chief Judge Charles H. Haden II. Thereafter, I was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia working in the Huntington and Charleston offices. Later, I worked with several law firms in Parkersburg and Wheeling before becoming a founding partner of the Hartley & O’Brien law firm in Wheeling. I am licensed to practice law in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky. I am also licensed to practice before the United States Supreme Court and various other federal appellate and trial courts.

I have also participated in real estate development groups that have renovated two buildings in Wheeling, creating jobs for my fellow hard-working West Virginians.

I live in Wheeling with my wife of 35 years, Denise, and my sons, Michael and Elliott, and my daughter, Kaitlin. I am a longtime supporter of West Virginia University. I was named as a College of Law Dean’s Partner and a member of the Woodburn Circle Society. I am also a former member of the Law School Dean’s Development Council. I am also a member of Wheeling Elks Lodge No. 28.

The Code of Judicial Conduct, which applies to all judicial candidates, limits how a candidate for judicial office can respond to specific political or legal issues that may come before the court for decision.

The message of my campaign is simply that the only two promises that I can make as a candidate for judicial office are: (1) I will apply the law as made by the legislature, as opposed to legislating from the bench, and (2) I will not waste a cent of our tax dollars. The recent scandal with the court occurred because the judges forgot that they are there to serve the public, as opposed to wasting our taxes for their own comfort. I pledge that I will not make this mistake. The people of West Virginia deserve a fair, impartial and fiscally responsible judiciary, and I pledge to do all in my power to provide this for you.

I hope you will support my candidacy. Please text or email your contacts in West Virginia, asking them to vote for me and for them to ask their family, friends and neighbors to do likewise. Please also like and pass on my Facebook page (https://facebook.com/JimOBrienforWVSupremeCourt/).

Thank you for your support.

Jim O’Brien, a resident of Wheeling, is a candidate for the West Virginia Supreme Court, Division II.

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