Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chief Justice of W. Virginia Supreme Court loses in primary

I wrote in January about Justice Elliot E. Maynard's apparent conflict-of-interest problem after photos of him with a Massey Energy Company chief executive were made public. The two were shown together, while reportedly vacationing separately, on the French Riviera and in Monaco in 2006. About a year later, he ruled in favor of Massey in a case in which a $50 million judgment was at stake. This week, Maynard lost in the Democratic primary for re-election to the state Supreme Court. This outcome seems fitting, even in a state marked by what sociologists call a "high density of acquaintanceship," where judges are likely to know lots of folks, including the litigants whose cases they hear.

The three candidates now on the November ballot for state Supreme Court Justice include two women: Democrat Margaret Workman and Republican Beth Walker. The third candidate is Menis Kethcum, another Democrat. With the three vying for two seats, that means that at least one of the women will be elected. (Workman was previously elected to the court, in 1998).

Indeed, while I have written about the entrenched nature of patriarchy in rural places, Appalachia (well, West Virginia in any event) might be starting to see real movement on that front. I was pleased to see earlier this spring that Joyce McConnell, a long-time faculty member at the University of West Virginia law school, will be its next dean. Having women in such highly visible, state-wide leadership roles is ultimately beneficial to all women in the region, if for no other reason than as role models.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While I agree that movement on patriarchy is necessary in such areas, I am not so convinced that Mcconnell's appointment is an overall win. Unfortunately, the search for the Dean was less than open and once again a local old boy (in this case girl) network candidate was truly the only candidate considered despite publicly trotted candidates with far greater qualifications and experience.