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Jenkins, Armstead get temp positions

August 26, 2018
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Jenkins

WV SUPREME COURT

CHARLESTON — Two West Virginia politicians who were exiting the stage of their legislative offices in 2018 instead will take center stage with interim positions on the West Virginia Supreme Court this fall.

Former House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead and U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins have been appointed to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Gov. Jim Justice announced during a news conference in front of about 50 people in his office Saturday morning.

During the conference, Justice called the situation with the state Supreme Court “gravely serious.”

“The Supreme Court of the nation, the Supreme Court of our state is our lifeblood. It’s our stability. It’s our insurance policy,” Justice said. “We’ve been dismantled in some ways and we’ve lost some level of confidence and some level of trust. And on a nationwide basis it’s cast a black eye. What we need to do more than anything is repair, move on and show the nation how committed we are as West Virginians to have a solid court and, in my opinion, without any question, a conservative court.”

Armstead in January announced he would not seek re-election to his seat in

the House while he explored seeking election to the Supreme Court in 2020.

In June, Arm stead, of Elk view, West Virginia, recused himself from presiding over impeachment proceedings against the Supreme Court justices in the House, saying he wanted to avoid potential bias from his previous comments about his intention to seek election to the court.

Armstead, a Republican, resigned from office Tuesday to file his candidacy for election in the Division 1 race to finish what was Menis Ketchum’s term, set to expire in 2020.

Jenkins, of Huntington, is in the midst of the final months of his term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Jenkins sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, but he was defeated by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the May primary election.

On Aug. 1, Justice tweeted a photo of himself and Jenkins, saying Jenkins intended to seek election to the Supreme Court and, “We need people with honesty and integrity to restore trust to the Court!”

Jenkins served 20 years in the West Virginia Legislature as a Democrat, and he switched parties in 2014 when he launched his U.S. House campaign against incumbent Nick Joe Rahall II.

Jenkins filed his candidacy last week in the Division 2 race to finish what was Justice Robin Davis’ term, set to expire in 2024.

The Supreme Court vacancies came amid an impeachment investigation in the West Virginia Legislature and a federal investigation into the court as a whole that so far has led to 11 articles of impeachment in the West Virginia Legislature and two federal criminal cases against suspended Justice Allen Loughry and former Justice Ketchum.

On Thursday, Ketchum pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, and his sentencing hearing is set for Dec. 6.

Loughry has pleaded not guilty to 25 charges against him, including wire fraud, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and lying to federal investigators. His trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 2.

Davis, who was among the justices impeached, announced her retirement Aug. 14.

Ketchum resigned from the court effective July 27. The timing of his resignation meant he was not subject to impeachment proceedings in the House.

Impeachment proceedings against Loughry, Davis, Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Justice Beth Walker are set to resume Sept. 11 in the West Virginia Senate.

Reach Lacie Pierson at lacie.pierson@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1723 or follow @laciepierson on Twitter.

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