CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WVVA) History was made in the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Friday as Justice John Hutchison took the oath of office.
Justice Hutchison was on the bench in Raleigh County’s circuit court for the last 24 years prior to his appointment by Gov. Jim Justice in February. He replaces Justice Allen Loughery, who resigned in the midst of a federal criminal investigation after he was indicted in October for wire fraud, making false statements to federal investigators, witness tampering, and mail fraud.
In front of family, friends, and colleagues in the Supreme Court chamber on Friday, Justice Hutchison pledged to respect the rule of law and work with his four new colleagues through a period of rebuilding.
“There are hundreds of great people who work in this system. For the past 24 months, it’s been tough on them. It’s my goal to work with these other four folks, put that system back to together, and make the people in this system what they were before — innovators, thinkers, people who aren’t afraid to step up and say we need to try something different. That’s been gone for the last four years. We need to get that back.”
Justice Hutchison had been a circuit judge since 1995, when then-Governor Gaston Caperton appointed him to the Tenth Judicial Circuit (Raleigh County). He was elected to that seat in 1996 and re-elected in 2000, 2008 and 2016. He was a member of the Supreme Court’s Mass Litigation Panel and was a judicial representative on the Commission to Study Residential Placement of Children. He served as treasurer, secretary, vice president, and president of the West Virginia Judicial Association and was chairman and vice-chairman of the association’s legislative and pensions committees.
“Mostly I am here to work for everyone in West Virginia as a positive, ethical, and I hope
intelligent and effective member of this high court. I recognize I am but one of five members of
your Supreme Court. I commit to you, and to them, I will work hard, I will cooperate in any way
possible to make the judicial branch of government the best it can be.”
Justice Hutchison said he hoped his swearing-in ceremony would convey how deeply he is
committed to West Virginia and to cooperating and collaborating with the other Justices, the
Legislature, and the Governor so that “West Virginia can achieve the greatness she deserves.”
Justice Hutchison plans to run for the election to the seat in 2020.