CHARLESTON -– West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard commemorated the 50th anniversary of Law Day on May 1 by presenting the 2008 Liberty Bell Award to retired U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Staker during the West Virginia Bar Association's Past Presidents' Dinner.

Maynard swore in new members of the State Bar Board of Governors and present the award at the conclusion of the May 1 dinner.

Born in Kermit in Mingo County in 1925, Staker served in the U.S. Navy as a radioman in the 1940s. He earned his law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law in 1952.

Staker had his own private practice for more than a decade. He then served Mingo County first as a prosecutor and then on the bench for ten years as a Circuit Court Judge. Staker was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to the federal bench in 1979. He served in the Southern District of West Virginia, and earned senior status, until his retirement in 2005.

Upon his retirement, U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall II said Staker had, "a long and distinguished history of accomplishment and public service ... [he] has committed himself to serving the people of West Virginia as a member of the legal profession."

"Judge Staker's tenure on the federal bench was one marked by common sense and common justice for all. It has been said that those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience, usually recognize also the voice of justice. Judge Staker's legacy on the federal court will echo the voice of justice for generations to come," Rahall said.

The Liberty Bell Award is commissioned each year by the American Bar Association. It honors a person who promotes better understanding of the rule of law, encourages a greater respect for law and the courts, stimulates a sense of civic responsibility and contributes to good government in the community. Such awards are presented as part of more than 200 Law Day programs around the nation. May 1 is Law Day.

This year's Law Day theme, assigned by the American Bar Association, is "The Rule of Law: Foundation for Communities of Opportunity and Equity." The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia commemorates Law Day each year.

Visit www.lawday.org for other national and state activities celebrating Law Day.

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