McHugh to fill court vacancy

By Chris Dickerson | Apr 8, 2009


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - Thomas McHugh was tapped Wednesday to fill the state Supreme Court vacancy left last month when Justice Joseph Albright died.

Gov. Joe Manchin made the announcement at a press conference to announce his appointment. McHugh, who has served in Albright's place since September when the former Justice went on leave, will serve through next year.

Voters will elect a new justice next November to serve the final two years of Albright's 12-year term.

McHugh sat on the Supreme Court from 1981 to 1998, serving as chief justice four times.

McHugh was elected to the Supreme Court in 1980 and was re-elected to a second 12-year term in 1992. He served as chief justice in 1984, 1998, 1992, 1995 and 1996. He retired on Dec. 31, 1997. He then practiced law in Charleston.

McHugh was born in Charleston on March 26, 1936, and is a graduate of West Virginia University and the West Virginia University College of Law. In law school he was a member of the Order of Coif, a legal honorary, and was associate editor of the West Virginia Law Review.

He then served as law clerk to West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Harlan Calhoun from 1966-1968. He was elected judge in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County 1974, re-elected in 1976, and served as chief circuit judge from 1974 to 1980.

Albright died March 20 at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center due to complications of esophageal cancer.

He had been appointed to the bench by Gov. Gaston Caperton in 1995, to serve out the remainder of an unexpired term until Dec. 1996.

Albright successfully ran for election to the bench in 2000.

Albright previously had served in the state House of Delegates from 1970 to 1972 and then again from 1974 to 1986. He was Speaker of the House during his last two years in office and chaired the House Judiciary Committee from 1979 to 1984.

The justice also was an assistant prosecutor in Wood County, city attorney for the city of Parkersburg, held a private practice and served as director of the family business, Belpre Furniture.

Albright earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Notre Dame.

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