Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 25, 2012

Endorsement: W.Va. Supreme Court of Appeals Robin Davis, Tish Chafin


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Voters will decide Nov. 6 between four candidates who are vying for two 12-year terms on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

The candidates include incumbent Justice Robin Jean Davis of Charleston, a Democrat; former West Virginia State Bar President Letitia “Tish” Chafin of Charleston, also a Democrat; and Republicans Allen Loughry of Charleston and Judge John Yoder of Harpers Ferry. All four candidates met last week with members of the Daily Telegraph’s editorial board.

After careful deliberation and debate, we endorse Davis and Chafin for the high court seats. Both Davis and Chafin come into the race with proven and impressive records.

Davis, the incumbent and senior most member of the high court, has served as a justice on the court for more than 15 years. She served as chief justice in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2010. Davis grew up in Boone County, the daughter of a school teacher and coal miner. She graduated from Van High School and earned her bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College. She went on to earn both her master’s and law degree from West Virginia University. She has served on the West Virginia Supreme Court since 1996. Davis was initially appointed to a four-year unexpired term and was then elected to a 12-year term in November 2000.

Under her leadership as chief justice in 2010, the court approved the Revised Rules for Appellate Procedure, which modernized and comprehensively changed the appellate process in the state to provide a decision on the merits of each case presented to the court. She also is the Supreme Court’s designee to the Judiciary Initiative on Truancy, a welcomed effort to combat high absenteeism and early drop outs and keep students in the classroom and out of the courtroom. Davis also has been involved in the creation of the new juvenile drug court for McDowell County, which is a part of the public-private Reconnecting McDowell initiative.

During her time on the high court, she has participated in more than 2,500 written opinions. Simply put, her experience and record of leadership on the high court is something we can’t afford to lose.

Chafin enters the Supreme Court race with an impressive record. The wife of state Sen. Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, she works as a managing partner with the H. Truman Chafin Law firm and is a past president of the West Virginia Bar. Licensed to practice in both West Virginia and Kentucky, Chafin has also been admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, the Fourth Circuit of the United States Federal Court and the southern District of West Virginia.

Chafin graduated from Marshall University and also earned her law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law. She has proposed a “Balanced Court Initiative” aimed at restoring public confidence in the high court through a recusal reform when there is a perception of a conflict of interest in a case a justice is hearing. Under her proposal, if a justice decides against recusing himself or herself from a case, the justice would be required to issue an opinion, based on the facts of the individual case, as to why he or she believes the recusal is unnecessary.

Her proposal is logical and should be welcomed for the high court.

Both candidates are impressive and would serve the state’s highest court very well. When voters head to the polls on Nov. 6, we would urge them to cast a ballot for Davis and Chafin for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.