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West Virginia’s judicial landscape is looking good, if you’re a corporation or an out-of-state, conservative policy mill.

On Tuesday, Gov. Jim Justice named his judicial appointees for the newly established appellate court. They include Thomas Scarr of Huntington, House of Delegates general counsel Dan Greear and Wheeling attorney Donald Nickerson Jr. The three are subject to state Senate confirmation, which is all but assured.

After that, they’ll start their staggered terms, while earning an annual salary of $142,500 each, courtesy of West Virginia taxpayers.

Justice has had an enormous impact on the state’s court system; more than any governor ever should.

After an attempt by the Legislature to impeach every member of the state Supreme Court of Appeals, resignations and a prison sentence for justice Allen Loughry left Gov. Justice with holes to fill. He ended up appointing three of the five members of the court, which included adding House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, and Evan Jenkins, a former Republican congressman and Democrat state senator whose political career seemed to be over after a failed bid for the U.S. Senate. Jenkins bailed on the final few months of his congressional term, making it no secret that he’d like to serve on the Supreme Court. So, Justice threw him a lifeline.

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Justice touted his appointment of the most conservative court the state had ever seen, which is even more staggering when considering Supreme Court justices in West Virginia are supposed to be elected by the people. The governor only gets involved if there are vacancies. Jenkins and Armstead had to win elections to hold onto their seats last year, but benefited from incumbency and a ballot that was decided in the primary during a pandemic.

At least two of the appointments to the new court carry what could be considered potential ethical concerns. Scarr is the president of the West Virginia Bar Association and also is a member of the law firm created by Jenkins’ grandfather. Justice appointed Greear to a temporary Kanawha circuit judge post in 2018, and Greear lost an election to keep the seat. He now serves as general counsel to the House of Delegates and was Armstead’s chief of staff when Armstead served as H ouse speaker.

That doesn’t mean these aren’t qualified attorneys or that they won’t be impartial when they take office. But when Justice, who still has involvement with his myriad businesses, many of which have litigation pending in West Virginia courts, says “we got it right,” and the court “needs a conservative flavor,” it doesn’t inspire confidence.

The intermediate appellate court itself is a multimillion-dollar waste billed to the taxpayers in a state with less than 2 million people and no backlog of cases between the circuit courts and the Supreme Court. The whole idea of the appellate court comes from out-of-state lobbyists, who want to grind litigation against corporate interests to a halt and financially starve out plaintiffs trying to hold them responsible for wrongdoing.

These new judges carry the burden to prove that this is really about fair application of the law, rather than an exchange of political favors.

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