CHARLESTON – State Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher has maintained that fellow Justices Spike Maynard and Brent Benjamin can't be impartial in cases involving Massey Energy.

But in the last five months, Starcher has ruled on at least two cases involving the law firm of his "close friend" Menis Ketchum, who is running for a seat on the state's highest court.

In December, Starcher dissented in a case (Riggs et al. vs. West Virginia University Hospitals Inc.) that enforced the state's $1 million cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Paul Farrell Jr. -- who works in Ketchum's Huntington law firm of Greene Ketchum Bailey Walker Farrell & Tweel –- was one of the attorneys who worked the case.

In the dissent, Starcher called the majority decision a "complete perversion of justice."

Starcher went on to disparage his colleagues for applying the law to trim a $10 million jury verdict to $1 million.

"I've looked at the record; clearly, the majority opinion didn't," he wrote in a Dec. 26 dissent. "That happens from time to time."

In January, Starcher also voted in favor of accepting a petition in a case against the City of Huntington. Bert Ketchum, Menis Ketchum's son, was the attorney from Greene Ketchum who presented the petition to appeal.

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