Davis plan to run for W.Va. Supreme Court in 2012

Jessica M. Karmasek Jun. 1, 2011, 10:35am


CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis announced Wednesday she is running for re-election in 2012.

Davis made her announcement on the radio show Talkline with Hoppy Kercheval.

"The Court has made so much progress over the years. The Court is very stable now, very predictable and very transparent," she explained.

Davis, a Democrat, said she did contemplate running for West Virginia's U.S. Senate seat, currently occupied by former Gov. Joe Manchin, but decided against it.

"I did seriously consider it," she told Kercheval. "But I have to go back to the way our Court is functioning right now."

The justice also admitted she got a push -- she didn't say from whom or what groups -- to run for Manchin's seat.

"Yes, I did," she said. "I'd be less than honest if I said I didn't. It's always easy for someone else to suggest you take on another candidate, though."

In making her decision, she said she considered the people of West Virginia.

"If I'm truly going to be a public servant to the people of West Virginia, then I have to stay where I am," she told Kercheval.

The Boone County native said she thinks she can better help residents by remaining on the Court.

Davis pointed to some of the Court's recent accomplishments, including the establishment of a domestic violence registry and last year's overhaul of the appellate court rules.

Prior to the rules changes, if someone filed an appeal and it was rejected, they simply received a letter saying so. Now, if an appeal is rejected, a full explanation is given as to why.

Still, some critics, mainly those in the business community, continue to argue that the changes don't go far enough in providing a fair appellate process in the state.

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, for one, instead supports the creation of an intermediate appellate court.

Davis, in Wednesday's interview, disagreed and said those arguments have "no merit."

She said the new appellate court rules are, indeed, working.

"Why in the world in West Virginia would we burden our people to have -- to tax them more -- to have another layer of appeal? That would mean that every single criminal would have an automatic right to appeal.

"I just think that's a financial burden the people of our state don't need," she said.

Davis said she also considered running for governor in 2012.

"It crossed my mind," she told The West Virginia Record after her TalkLine appearance. "But it was more of a choice to either run for re-election or run for U.S. Senate. I don't, quite frankly, know if I could put up with the political antics, even in the United States Senate. I'm very matter of fact. I love the law, I have a passion for the law. I seem to be able to get things done.

Davis also told The Record that she would be honored if she was asked to fill a vacant seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Traditionally, two seats on that court go to West Virginians. In March, Judge M. Blane Michael passed away, and his seat has yet to be filled.

"That would be the highlight of my career," Davis said, noting that she doesn't even know if she would be on the radar for such an appointment. "The only court in the entire country higher than a U.S. Circuit Court is the United States Supreme Court.

"To even have your name being bantered about ... it's a very quiet, kind of secretive process. But to sit as Fourth Circuit Judge would just be incredible. And it would take a big person to even attempt to fill Judge Michael's shoes."

Davis, a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College and West Virginia University's College of Law, was elected to the state Supreme Court in 1996. She was initially elected to an unexpired term, and was re-elected in November 2000 to a full 12-year term. She served as chief justice in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2007 and 2010.

Kercheval, who also serves as vice president of operations for Metronews, noted that Davis would have been a "formidable" opponent for Manchin in the 2012 primary.

Chris Dickerson contributed to this report.

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