Justice Evan Jenkins, a Huntington native, will be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia beginning Jan. 1, 2021, according to a news release.
The court also has designated Justice John Hutchison to serve as Chief Justice in 2022. Hutchison will serve as Acting Chief Justice in 2021 whenever Jenkins is unable to participate in a case before the court.
“I am truly humbled to be chosen Chief Justice by the other members of the Court, and it will be my honor to lead the judicial branch in service to the citizens of West Virginia in the coming year,” Jenkins said. “I will continue Chief Justice Tim Armstead’s excellent work to ensure the courts of the state remain open and accessible during this unprecedented pandemic and Justice Walker’s leadership in 2019 to champion the reforms that were so desperately needed at our state’s highest court.
“I also hope to build upon the court’s efforts to make the judicial system more open and transparent,” Jenkins said. “The Rule of Law upon which our country is founded depends on the public’s confidence in their government institutions. We have done much in the last two years to restore confidence in our Supreme Court, and we will continue to work hard every day to earn the public’s trust.”
Chief Justice Armstead’s term as Chief Justice ends Dec. 31.
“It has been a challenging year to serve as Chief Justice,” Armstead said. “I appreciate very much my fellow justices’ friendship and cooperation and that of our dedicated court staff as well as judges throughout the state.
We have truly worked as a team. Our court system is made up of talented, resourceful and dedicated professionals who have proven they are up to the challenge.”
Jenkins was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Jim Justice on Aug. 25, 2018. He was elected Nov. 6, 2018, to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Justice Robin Davis until the end of that term on Dec. 31, 2024.
At the time of his appointment to the bench, Jenkins was a member of the United States House of Representatives, to which he was elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2016, to represent the citizens of West Virginia’s Third Congressional District.
For four years he served on the House Appropriations Committee and most recently as the vice-chairman of the Commerce, Justice and Science Sub-Committee.
He previously served three terms in the West Virginia House of Delegates, being elected in 1994, 1996 and 1998, representing Cabell and Wayne counties, followed by being elected to three terms in the West Virginia Senate, in 2002, 2006 and 2010.
Before his election to Congress, he was executive director of the West Virginia State Medical Association, general counsel of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and taught business law at Marshall University.
Jenkins was admitted to the practice of law in West Virginia in 1988 and began his legal career as an associate attorney with the Huntington law firm of Jenkins Fenstermaker, PLLC.
Justice Jenkins is a native of Huntington. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida and a law degree from the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. Jenkins and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Huntington where they raised two sons and a daughter.
His prior community service has included leadership positions in many community organizations, and he was a founder and initial board president of Lily’s Place, a nationally recognized facility that cares for newborn infants suffering from drug exposure during pregnancy.
Hutchison was appointed to the Supreme Court in December 2018 by Gov. Jim Justice and was elected in June 2020 to a term ending Dec. 31, 2024.
He was born and raised in Beckley. He has a 1972 bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Davis and Elkins College and a 1980 law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.