Blue Skies Ahead provides Primary Election information for voters

Election Day has been moved to June 9, 2020, due to the coronavirus, making May 19 the deadline to register to vote and June 3 the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot and have it submitted to the County Clerk’s office.

Early, in-person voting will be held from May 27 through June 6 at the Greenbrier County Courthouse, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. though 5 p.m. You can also vote at the Rupert Community Building, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. and Sauturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To see if you are registered to vote, visit the Secretary of State’s website at https://services.sos.wv.gov/Elections/Voter/AmIRegisteredToVote, or call 304-647-6604.

Magistrate Election information:

Of the three divisions in Greenbrier County, the only one with multiple candidates is Division 1.

The Judicial Reorganization Amendment, ratified by WV voters Nov. 5, 1974 and effective July 1, 1976, ended the Justice of the Peace system and created a unified court system, which included Magistrate Courts. There are 158 Magistrates in WV, at least two in each county. In Greenbrier County we have 3, in 3 Divisions, but the Divisions are not geographical.

Magistrates hear misdemeanor criminal cases and conduct preliminary examinations in felony cases.  In criminal cases, Magistrates issue and record affidavits and complaints, issue arrest warrants and search warrants, set bail, and make decisions regarding proposed plea agreements, and the collection of court costs, cash bonds, and fees.

Magistrate Courts function as a small claims court. Civil lawsuits with less than $10,000 in dispute may be filed in Magistrate Court. Magistrate sometimes have bench trials or preside over jury trials in these cases.

Magistrates issue Emergency Protective Orders in domestic violence cases and immediately enter the Domestic Violence Petitions into the Domestic Violence Database and Registry.

Magistrates run for 4 year terms in non-partisan elections. The WV Constitution prohibits requiring Magistrates to be lawyers although some are. The salary for Magistrates has been $57,500 since January 2017. Earlier this year, the WV Legislature passed a 5% pay raise for the WV Judiciary, including Magistrates.

Meet the Candidates:

Division 1 Candidates for Magistrate:

Timothy Stover – Division 1

  1. What do you believe is the single most important quality an individual should possess to be an effective magistrate?

Impartiality. I believe a Magistrate should be able to look at all the facts of a case, make sound decisions and be impartial in those decisions.

  1. In your opinion what judicial reform could be implemented to make the magistrate system more efficient and responsive to the needs of society in the 21st century?

Some areas of reform that could be considered would include reduction of caseloads by denying multiple continuances, increase alternative sentencing for non violent offenders and look at the overall WV code to see where adjustments can be made. This would require legislative approval.

  1. What do you perceive as the greatest obstacles to justice, if any?

During my law enforcement career, the magistrate system was sometimes bogged down by cases being continued. This creates the court docket to also be continued and cases not being heard in a timely manner. This puts hardships on the system to reissue subpoenas and reschedule court time.

  1. What factors are considered in granting and setting bail amounts for defendants? What do you believe is the primary consideration?

The severity of the crime and past criminal history of the defendant as well as flight risk should be considered in setting bail amounts. I believe the circumstances and the severity of a crime allegedly committed should be the primary consideration.

  1. Do you believe there is such a thing as a “victimless crime?” If so, what offenses would you place in this category?

No, by definition it is an act that is illegal but has no direct victim. Some crimes that may fall into this category include prostitution and illegal gambling. I believe that looking at the big picture there may be victims such as society and families that may be affected.

  1. What do you think about the growing jail population? What response should society have to jail overcrowding?

I believe that we need to look at why our society is seeing an increase in crime. Whether it be social, economic, educational or substance abuse, what can we do as a society to reduce crime. Alternative sentencing could also be expanded in cases such as a felony driving revoked case. These types of programs would require legislative action, which is difficult. The possibility of additional correctional facilities may be considered if the population continues to grow.

Jim Childers – Division 1

  1. What do you believe is the single most important quality an individual should possess to be an effective magistrate?

I believe every person has the same basic human rights as everyone.  Have the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently with staff, defendants, law officers and attorneys.  (I have this quality).

  1. In your opinion what judicial reform could be implemented to make the magistrate system more efficient and responsive to the needs of society in the 21st century?

Better use of community service and alternative sentencing to rehabilitate rather than jail.  All do not need to be in jail.

  1. What do you perceive as the greatest obstacles to justice, if any?

Access to justice – the right to be represented.  Rights explained and to make sure there is no inequality between income classes, skin color, education or appearance.

  1. What factors are considered in granting and setting bail amounts for defendants? What do you believe is the primary consideration?

Nature and severity of the crime (murder vs a possession charge), the danger of injury to the defendant or the public.  Also, the probability of showing up for trial.

  1. Do you believe there is such a thing as a “victimless crime?” If so, what offenses would you place in this category?

It depends on the circumstances. Personal consumption or ownership of marijuana could be an example, however – it can turn into violence if too much is consumed. Some motor vehicle violations could be in this category.

  1. What do you think about the growing jail population? What response should society have to jail overcrowding?

A speedy process for non-violent defendants. Example: community service and community safety factors. Get them counseling of hope for a better future. According to one of the County Commissioners, Greenbrier County jail bills last month were approximately $46,000, so a speedy process could be a plan ahead.

Martha J. Fleshman, Esq. – Divison 1

  1. What do you believe is the single most important quality an individual should possess to be an effective magistrate?

Integrity. If a magistrate is honest and shows a “consistent and uncompromising adherence to strong moral and ethical principles and values” (as defined in Oxford and Cambridge Dictionaries) the decisions she/he makes will demonstrate that and will be in the best interests of all parties involved. Integrity will also lead the magistrate to follow the law rather than to make decisions based on personal preference or personal knowledge of a particular defendant or particular situation.

  1. In your opinion what judicial reform could be implemented to make the magistrate system more efficient and responsive to the needs of society in the 21st century?

Bail reform is something that I would have suggested, but the bail system was just reformed in the 2020 Legislative session, and the changes will take effect on June 5, 2020. As a prosecutor and a defense attorney over the last 20 years, I have dealt with hundreds of defendants, parents, and juveniles who have substance abuse problems. The root of the majority of criminal offenses and abuse and neglect matters is substance abuse issues, and it sometimes includes domestic violence, which is exacerbated by alcohol and drug use. Therefore, more emphasis on substance abuse treatment for offenders would be more responsive to the needs of society in today’s world. Unfortunately, the lack of treatment opportunities available, the length of time it typically takes to obtain a bed in a treatment facility, and the length of time required for effective treatment versus the length of time the defendant would be incarcerated on a misdemeanor charge, if at all, would make it difficult to establish this type of meaningful judicial reform in the magistrate system.

  1. What do you perceive as the greatest obstacles to justice, if any?

Complacency on the part of many people working within the system and also of society in general is what I see as the greatest obstacle to justice. Each case that is brought into the justice system is unique, and each case should be carefully investigated, evaluated, prosecuted (or dismissed), and ruled upon as if the people involved, both defendants and victims, are friends so that every task is completed thoroughly and efficiently. Even if all of the people in the justice system are dedicated to performing their individual tasks to their highest potential, completion of those tasks often requires cooperation from outside agencies and individuals. When society as a whole becomes too complacent to care and to do their part, justice cannot truly be accomplished.

  1. What factors are considered in granting and setting bail amounts for defendants? What do you believe is the primary consideration?

WV Code §62-1C-1 states that a person arrested for an offense not punishable by life imprisonment shall be admitted to bail. Therefore, except for cases involving the most serious crimes, which may include a sentence of life in prison, a magistrate does not have a choice as to whether or not bail is granted. It shall be. After determining that the offense charged is one that requires bail to be granted, the consideration then becomes a determination of the appropriate amount of bail and in what form that should be, i.e. cash only, surety – typically through a bail bondsman, or property – typically real estate. In determining the appropriate amount and type of bail, WV Code §62-1C-3 requires that consideration be given to: the seriousness of the offense charged, the previous criminal record of the defendant, his/her financial ability, and the probability of his/her appearance in court. All of these are things that I do consider when setting the amount of bail. I often also ask the officer who arrested the defendant if he/she had an issue with the defendant or if the defendant was cooperative. If the defendant was combative with the officer, resisted arrest, or attempted to flee, that might indicate that the defendant would be less likely to voluntarily show up for court without the incentive of a secured bond, or perhaps additional conditions. Sometimes a defendant will make comments to an officer about his/her desire to get the matter taken care of, have his/her “day in court”, etc. which tends to indicate the defendant is likely to show up for court, and he/she may be a candidate for a PR (“personal recognizance”) bond.

Additionally, if the defendant has a criminal history, it is important to note whether he/she had any charges for failure to appear and/or fleeing. If so, that tends to indicate that a PR bond may be too risky with that defendant. WV House Bill #2419, signed by the Governor on 3-25-2020 with an effective date of 6- 5-2020, modified WV Code §62-1C-1a, which is now changed to state that “except for good cause shown, a judicial officer shall release a person charged with a misdemeanor offense on his or her own recognizance…” The amended statute goes on to list certain offenses that are exceptions to the requirement for a PR bond, which are: offenses involving violence, the use of a deadly weapon, a minor as the victim, violations of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, and serious traffic offenses. In cases where a PR bond is not required, the “arrested person is entitled to be admitted to bail subject to the least restrictive further condition or combination of conditions that the judicial officer determines reasonably necessary to assure that person will appear as required and which will not jeopardize the safety of the arrested person, victims, witnesses, or other persons in the community or the safety and maintenance of evidence.” Some of those possible conditions are home incarceration, electronic monitoring, avoiding all contact with an alleged victim and potential witnesses, and refraining from the use of alcohol and controlled substances. Of course, several of these conditions are already regularly utilized by magistrates. The amended WV Code §62-1C-1a also now lists 12 factors to be considered in determining whether to release the defendant without bail, fixing a reasonable amount of bail, or imposing other reasonable conditions of bail.

Additionally, although no actual schedule for the amount of bail permissible for each offense has been established, WV Code §62-1C-1a also includes the requirement that “in all misdemeanors, cash bail shall not exceed the maximum fine provided for the offense.” In answer to the second part of the question, the main purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant will appear in court when further proceedings are scheduled. Therefore, statutorily, the primary consideration is supposed to be whether the defendant is likely to show up for future court proceedings. Realistically, whether anyone is potentially in danger from the defendant and/or whether the defendant is likely to continue to commit crimes if not incarcerated are more important considerations, in my opinion.

  1. Do you believe there is such a thing as a “victimless crime?” If so, what offenses would you place in this category?

No, I don’t believe there are “victimless” crimes. There are, of course, crimes that don’t directly involve another individual or another person’s property – such as driving offenses where no one else is involved. However, society as a whole is always a victim when a crime is committed. And crimes don’t exist in a vacuum. For example, if someone is driving under the influence and does not have an accident, that person is still not the only one affected. By committing that crime, he/she is putting every other person on the road in a position of increased danger. He/she is also causing insurance rates for everyone to be higher because insurance companies factor in those driving offenses when they are calculating risk and premium costs. Additionally, every crime that is charged carries with it expenses that cannot fully be met by the person being charged. Often, the person charged is in a financial situation that allows them to have an attorney appointed and paid for by the state Public Defender Corporation. That Corporation is funded by taxpayer money. Counties are required to reimburse the regional jail authority for every defendant for every day they are incarcerated on misdemeanor or pre-conviction felony offenses. If defendants aren’t incarcerated, they are often on day report on home incarceration, which also carry costs that have to be supplemented by taxpayer money. Magistrate and Circuit Courts have increasing expenses in dealing with defendants from the initial appearance all the way through sentencing, and, sometimes, beyond. Those expenses come from money generated through taxes. Therefore, for many reasons, I don’t believe there is any crime that does not include multiple “victims” even if those victims aren’t truly aware of exactly how they have been victimized.

  1. What do you think about the growing jail population? What response should society have to jail overcrowding?

The growing jail population creates a very costly problem for our society. Counties in WV contributed $5.4 million to pay jail bills in 2019. Prior to the pandemic, the amount was projected to be approximately $5.7 million in 2020. Overcrowding in jail causes increased costs in attempting to operate facilities that were not designed to house the numbers they are being required to house. There are many situations that require a defendant to be incarcerated. If they are a danger to themselves or others or continue to commit additional crimes when not incarcerated, sometimes jail is the only reasonable option. However, there are situations where people are taken to jail when it probably wasn’t necessary or when the crime they allegedly committed does not even carry a jail sentence as a potential punishment. I believe society as a whole should be concerned and should be open to seeking information about the areas where improvements to the system would help to alleviate overcrowding while still providing the optimum protection for its citizens, such as additional bail reform, reclassification of offenses, etc. The safety of our citizens and deterrence of additional crimes should always be considered when suggesting any type of reform in the judicial system. Voters should also ask questions of the people seeking office into positions with the ability to accomplish those improvements and then vote accordingly.

Division 2 Candidates for Magistrate:

Kim Johnson – Division 2

  1. What do you believe is the single most important quality an individual should possess to be an effective magistrate?

Honesty.

  1. In your opinion what judicial reform could be implemented to make the magistrate system more efficient and responsive to the needs of society in the 21st century?

Juvenile justice system-so many of our children “fall through the cracks” because we do not have enough youth shelters/juvenile detention centers to house our at risk children.  Also not enough workers to help the children when they are in the shelters/centers.

  1. What do you perceive as the greatest obstacles to justice, if any?

How to cure the drug epidemic that is so prevalent in our community and in the court system.

  1. What factors are considered in granting and setting bail amounts for defendants? What do you believe is the primary consideration?

Whether the defendant will show up to court when they are noticed to do so, their criminal history, impact on alleged victim, impact on the community, severity of the alleged crime-When I set a bond I  look at the elements of the alleged crime and the impact on the alleged victim if the defendant is to make bond.

  1. Do you believe there is such a thing as a “victimless crime?” If so, what offenses would you place in this category?

No.

  1. What do you think about the growing jail population? What response should society have to jail overcrowding?

I do not think about jail overcrowding when I am sentencing a defendant, if I believe the defendant needs to go to jail I will send them there.  But I also try to use all of the resources at my disposal like: Home Incarceration, Day Report Center, Scram Bracelet, and the Drug Court Program.

Division 3 Candidates for Magistrate:

Kirby Hanson – Division 2

  1. What do you believe is the single most important quality an individual should possess to be an effective magistrate?

I believe that a Magistrate has to be completely unbiased and fair. Not to allow even the shadow of a personal feeling or acquaintance influence the decisions made in the matter before the Court. A Magistrate should only rely on the evidence that is properly before him/her, and the guidance of law for making a decision on the matter

  1. In your opinion what judicial reform could be implemented to make the magistrate system more efficient and responsive to the needs of society in the 21st century?

I believe any reform idea could be addressed better after having more experience as a Magistrate.

  1. What do you perceive as the greatest obstacles to justice, if any?

I believe the apathy that is infecting the police officers is a very big issue. I see the apathy coming from a overall dismissal rate for charges that is consistently running in excess of %80. I know this because the job I currently do is to gather and send the completed Court Disposition Report to Charleston for entry onto a Defendants record. I worked as a Deputy Sheriff for over 20 years, I still hear police officers talk. It is disheartening, to say the least, for the Officers when so many criminal charges are dismissed in the long run.

  1. What factors are considered in granting and setting bail amounts for defendants? What do you believe is the primary consideration? The seriousness of the alleged crime, the Defendant’s criminal history, the Defendants physical condition, and the Defendant’s ability to post a bail. A person with a six figure a year income would not feel the impact of a medium bail in the same way that a person with a fixed income from a retirement or Social Security would.
  2. Do you believe there is such a thing as a “victimless crime?” If so, what offenses would you place in this category?

By definition a crime has to have a Victim. I can remember hearing numerous times when I was a Deputy “If you don’t have a Victim, you don’t have a crime”. So no I do not believe there is such a thing as a Victimless Crime.

  1. What do you think about the growing jail population? What response should society have to jail overcrowding?

This is another issue that I believe I could better address after being a Magistrate for a period of time.

 

Background on School Board Position:

The Greenbrier County Board of Education is made up of five (5) elected non-partisan members representing the three (3) districts of Greenbrier County:  Central, Western and Eastern. By law, each district cannot have more than two representatives at a time. Currently serving in these positions are the following:

Jeanie Wyatt, Board President (Central District) – Term Expiration 2022

Robert Toothman (Eastern District) – Term Expiration 2020 and not seeking re-election

Hazel Reed (Western District) – Term Expiration 2022

Kay Smith (Western District) – Term Expiration 2022

May Humphreys (Central District) – Term Expiration 2020, an incumbent on the June 2020 ballot

Board of Education members in Greenbrier County attend mandatory monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of every month, as well as special meetings, if needed, to include student expulsions and financial meetings required by law. Each board member is paid $160 per meeting and there must be a quorum of three (3) members in attendance.

The average annual income per member in Greenbrier County is $4,200. This, of course, does not include the extra time each member spends on phone calls with parents and constituents, visiting schools, attending school performances and dealing with other issues such as the 2016 flood and the current Covid-19 Pandemic, which has required much more of their time.  Members also give their time by serving on various committees throughout the year.

Up for re-election this year is incumbent Mary Humphreys and the seat of Robert “Bob” Toothman who is not seeking re-election. The top two vote getters will fill these two positions.

Banks Jesser

(Employed by local business Country Vintners and resides in Alderson)

Beyond the job description, how would you spend your time as a member of the Board of Education?

As a member of the Board of Education, I will continue to advocate for the students, teachers and administrators throughout Greenbrier County. I will continue to be actively involved with the Parent Teacher Organizations for the schools my children attend, as well as supporting those organizations within all schools in the Greenbrier County school district. I will continue to serve on the Local School Improvement Council and the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Planning Committee to continue plans for improvements throughout the County. I will actively communicate with all school administration and students by being involved and engaged with each of the 13 schools in the county.

Describe your personal experiences in our local public schools over the last five years.

My wife and I are the proud parents of four children. Our son is a recent graduate of Greenbrier East High school, and our three daughters are current and future students within the Greenbrier County School system. For the past six years, I have served as the President of the Alderson Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). I have also served on various school-based and district-wide initiatives for Greenbrier County Schools including the Local School Improvement Council, PreK Policy Council, county Parent Advisory Council, and the Comprehensive Educational Facilities Planning Committee.

By Law, the Board employs the county superintendent. What should the relationship between the Board and the Superintendent look like?

I believe the relationship between the Board and the Superintendent needs to be transparent with open communication. I feel one cannot serve the students, teachers, administrators, and support staff without the other. I feel all decisions should be made in conjunction with the Superintendent so that both parties are able to provide all necessary information and feedback. The Board shall maintain a strong relationship with the Superintendent and serve as advisors for guidance beyond the day-to-day decision making.

Do you believe WVDE Policy 4373 presents a fair way to deal with student discipline matters in today’s world? Why or why not?

I feel Policy 4373 presents a great opportunity for students to learn from mistakes made. The policy provides clear descriptions of inappropriate behavior, and outlines guidance for punishment severity for each offense. For severe behavior, I feel the information gathered from a hearing between all involved parties provides for a fair and impartial decision of punishment. In the event of a suspension or expulsion, I feel it is vital for students to be able to continue their education. Keeping the students engaged and involved in the learning process will hopefully lead to positive behavior modification. Mandating all students who are suspended, expelled, or given in-school suspension to attend classes at an alternative learning center will provide the opportunity for students to modify their behavior. An alternative learning center also provides the students with continued therapy and other special education services for those in need. The Achievement Center, which was created for the most recent school year in Greenbrier County, has seen positive outcomes for students who have been required to attend classes at the Chestnut Street location.

Andrew Utterback

(EMT with Alderson Fire and EMS and resides in Alderson)

Beyond the job description, how would you spend your time as a member of the Board of Education?

My plan and goals are to be very interactive with the faculty, staff and students. I want all of them to know that I support all the hard work they all do. I will not limit myself to just one to a handful of school I will make random visits, scheduled meeting and attend special events at all the schools in Greenbrier County. Being active and listening to issues and ideas that everyone in the county must help by improving the school system.

Describe your personal experiences in our local public schools over the last five years? In the past five years I have helped mainly with Alderson Elementary school with fire prevention week. That reason is because not only did my kids attend Alderson, but I am the vice president of Alderson Fire Department and working with the community and more, so the school was the main goal. At this point in my life my children attend Lewisburg Elementary where I have helped with some special events in the past year.

By law, the Board employs the county superintendent. What should the relationship between the Board and the superintendent look like?

I want to have the best working relationship with not only the superintendent but all the faculty and staff for Greenbrier County. I am not a yes man by any means, I will stand by what is right if I believe the superintendent is wrong, I will voice my concerns and work to find the best solution. I want what is best for the future of Greenbrier County that is my main goal.

Do you believe WVDE Policy 4373 presents a fair way to deal with student discipline matters in today’s world? Why or why not?

I am very torn on this policy. I have read it several times trying to make heads or tails of the policy. I see some good parts and some negative. I do like that it sets some guidelines to deal levels of discipline. However, it can be interpreted different depending on the person implementing the discipline. Some students might not need such hard punishment yet their acting out is a cry for help. We have no idea what some of the children’s home life is like. Most children do not know how to express their feels and will act out as a sign of help. Not only are we here to teach and educate the children but to show them compassion. Not all the students will be acting out as a cry for help and making sure the communication with the teachers, principals and councilors to make sure that the punishment fits the crime.

Richard Parker

(Retired teacher and resides in Alderson)

Beyond the job description, how would you spend your time as a member of the Board of Education?

I want to visit every school and ride the buses throughout our county. I would visit schools when there are Faculty Senate days and other days built into system. I feel it is important to know our personnel since they are our most important asset. I would expect to listen to our employees and evaluate how to keep our children safe while continuing to keep the classroom moving forward academically. Since I am retired, I have the time to contribute.

Describe your personal experiences in our local public schools over the last five years?

I have worked as a substitute teacher, home bound teacher with a junior high student, and currently working with an autistic teenager. I enjoy working with children of different ages and abilities. The support of parent, teachers, and staff at the board office have helped me tremendously. My former students know I am available to help with homework or to explain or help will assignments free of charge.

By law, the Board employs the county superintendent. What should the relationship between the Board and the superintendent look like?

The relationship between the board and the superintendent should involve trust, honesty, and transparency. We should support each other while understanding different viewpoints or opinions.

Do you believe WVDE Policy 4373 presents a fair way to deal with student discipline matters in today’s world? Why or why not?

State Board Policy 4373 deals with restraining students and teaching staff to restrain students. I understand why this policy was implemented, but I see so many more areas of discipline needed with consequences. With some students there is a total lack of disrespect and loss of traditional areas of consequences for inappropriate behavior. I feel our public schools not only are suffering from numbers, but sometimes support from the community. We need strong principals who are not afraid to back staff while having the support of the board of education.

 

Central District Candidate:

Mary Crickenberger Humphries

(Retired teacher, currently on the School Board and resides in Lewisburg)

Beyond the job description, how would you spend your time as a member of the Board of Education?

As a current member of the Board of Education, I attend the required board meetings, I spend time in the schools as much as I can.   When possible I attend programs at the various schools, and I volunteer my time in the schools when asked, such as judging the various Social Studies Fairs. I also just enjoy visiting in the schools.  As a former teacher of 39 years I like to keep current with educational trends by reading scholarly materials. I also like to keep in touch with teachers and staff when possible via email and Facebook.

Describe your personal experiences in our local public schools over the last five years.

I have tried to attend various programs that the schools have throughout the year such as attending the Christmas program at Frankfort Elementary or serving as a judge at the social studies fairs in elementary and middle schools, and conducting senior interviews at Greenbrier East and West. In addition I like to attend the plays at Greenbrier West and the musical presentations at Rainelle Elementary.  I keep in touch with teachers via email, Facebook and visitation. I am always willing to communicate with all who want to contact me.  My personal phone number is published on the Greenbrier County Board of Education site. I also have a published education email.

By law, the Board employs the county superintendent.  What should the relationship between the Board and the superintendent look like?

That relationship should be a collaboration and efficient effort between the Board and the superintendent which I believe we have with current Superintendent Jeff Bryant. We work together for the best for Greenbrier County students and staff. Communication is vital and we receive frequent information on financial matters, issues, and concerns. Since I was elected to the Board in 2016 we have had some extraordinary events, the flood of 2016, the teacher strike, and now the pandemic. In all of those cases we, the board members, have worked with Mr. Bryant to provide the best outcomes for our students and our staff.

Do you believe WVDE Policy 4373 presents a fair way to deal with student discipline matters in today’s world? Why or Why not?

The policy is fair in as much as it seems to me the intent is for discipline to be corrective versus punitive. The policy allows for leeway in consequences for behavior so that administrators may be consistent with consequences but at the same time take individual situations and students into consideration before administering a consequence.

 

Background on the WV Supreme Court of Appeals

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia is the state’s highest court; it hears and decides appeals from the circuit courts across the state, as well as certain other cases. Its interpretation of the state’s constitution and laws are final and binding upon all courts within West Virginia. On matters involving the application of federal law, its decisions can be appealed only to the United States Supreme Court, which may or may not agree to consider the appeal. In addition, the Supreme Court of Appeals oversees the administrative operations of the entire state court system, making important decisions about the allocation of resources within the judicial branch of government.  It also regulates the practice of law within the state, and establishes the procedural rules that apply in West Virginia’s circuit courts, family courts, and magistrate courts.

The Supreme Court of Appeals is comprised of five justices, each elected on a nonpartisan basis to a 12-year term. When there is a vacancy between elections, the governor fills the vacancy by appointment, but if more than two years remain in the term, the appointment extends only until the next statewide election. The current justices are Tim Armstead (term expires 12/31/2020), Margaret L. Workman (term expires 12/31/2020), Elizabeth D. Walker (term expires 12/31/2028), Evans H. Jenkins (term expires 12/31/2024), and John A. Hutchison (appointed to fill vacancy until election, following resignation of Allen Loughry; balance of term expires 12/31/2024).

Three positions on the Supreme Court of Appeals will be decided in the upcoming election on June 9 – two for full 12-year terms expiring on Dec. 31, 2032, and one for the balance of a term that will expire on Dec. 31, 2024. Persons running for these offices must designate the particular seat on the court that they are seeking. On the ballot this year, these seats are designated as Division 1, Division 2 and Division 3. The person receiving the highest number of votes in each division wins that seat. (All justices are elected on a statewide basis; the designation of divisions is only for the purpose of identifying which seat each candidate is running for.)