Gov. Jim Justice appointed an unprecedented three justices to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals after the fallout of the spending scandal, impeachment and criminal charges that engulfed the high court in 2018.
Of those appointments, only one was an actual judge with experience, John Hutchison. Hutchison took over for former justice Allen Loughry, who was convicted of federal fraud and witness-tampering charges, among others. Since his appointment, Hutchison has done a good job of restoring integrity to the seat, which is one of the reasons the Gazette-Mail endorses him in the election for the remainder of Loughry’s unexpired term. The term lasts for four years and will be decided in the primary election.
Before joining the Supreme Court, Hutchison had been a circuit judge in Raleigh County since 1995. Experience matters, especially in the judiciary. Most circuit judges are apolitical stewards of the law, which is exactly what West Virginia’s Supreme Court needs after the disaster of 2018, and other previous instances where undue business and political interests held sway.
Hutchison judges cases on their merits, not on ideology or outside pressures and persuasions. That’s what the state’s high court should be — a neutral arbiter that operates with transparency and gives everyone equal access to justice.
He has worked well with the other justices of the Supreme Court, so far, acting as a stabilizing agent in a turbulent time. We think he will continue to provide stability and fairness going forward.
West Virginians deserve equal access to justice, and they must be able to trust their highest court. Hutchison will help meet both of those goals.