CHARLESTON — Justice Tim Armstead has been named chief justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
Justice Beth Walker had previously been serving as chief justice.
According to a news release, justices also decided to give chief justices one-year terms. Justice Evan Jenkins, formerly a Republican congressman serving West Virginia’s Third Congressional District, will serve as chief justice in 2021.
In a statement, Armstead said he was honored by the confidence of his fellow justices.
“This year has been a year of rebuilding and restoration for our court,” Armstead was quoted as saying. “Under the leadership of Chief Justice Beth Walker, our court has worked to build a stronger, more open and accessible court. I am excited to have this opportunity to build upon that effort in 2020 and will work hard to ensure our court system continues to earn the trust of the people of our state.
“Our judiciary is made up of many talented people who are dedicated to ensuring justice, following the law and upholding high standards of integrity. We owe it to the people of our state who have entrusted us with this responsibility to provide them a fair, efficient, open and honest court system.”
He also said that ensuring children of the opioid crisis have safe and healthy homes would be a priority.
Armstead, a Republican, became speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates in 2015 and was re-elected in 2017. Prior to serving as speaker of the House, he had been minority leader since 2006 and a member of the House since 1998. During his time in the Legislature, he was widely known for his social conservatism.
Former Justice Menis Ketchum stepped down in July 2018, prior to pleading guilty to wire fraud over the use of a state vehicle. In August 2018, state lawmakers impeached the remaining four Supreme Court justices — Allen Loughry, Margaret Workman, Walker and Robin Davis — over excessive spending, and for failing to carry out their administrative duty to control spending.
Davis then stepped down, while the state Senate acquitted Walker.
Loughry stepped down following his conviction on 11 federal charges over, among other things, personal use of a state-owned vehicle.
Jenkins and Armstead were appointed by Gov. Jim Justice, then elected, to fill vacant seats. Raleigh Circuit Judge John Hutchison was appointed by Gov. Jim Justice in December 2018 to fill the last remaining court vacancy.
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