CHARLESTON -- Thomas McHugh officially returned Wednesday to the state Supreme Court of Appeals.
Gov. Joe Manchin appointed McHugh to serve on the five-member Court to fill the vacancy left last month when Justice Joseph Albright passed away.
"It is my desire to serve the citizens of our state as a Supreme Court justice in an exemplary manner," McHugh said. "It is a privilege for me to continue working with the Justices of the Court."
McHugh had been sitting by designation as Senior Status Justice on the Supreme Court since September when then-Chief Justice Spike Maynard appointed him to serve during Albright's battle with esophageal cancer. Current Chief Justice Brent Benjamin reappointed McHugh in January. And upon Albright's death last month, Benjamin appointed him to serve until Manchin named a replacement.
McHugh, 73, will serve on the Court until the 2010 general election, at which time a candidate will be elected to serve the remainder of Albright's term, which ends in 2012.
At Wednesday's press conference, McHugh said all options are open regarding the 2010 election. But he stressed that he would not run in 2012.
"I am very excited and enthusiastic," McHugh said. "I have thoroughly enjoyed the last few months back on the bench, and I look forward to the coming months.
"This is a good group of people to work with. They all are hard-working and dedicated."
At Wednesday's press conference, both Manchin and McHugh praised Albright's record of public service. Albright's widow, Nancie, and members of his family attended Wednesday's event.
""While he will be truly missed, his many contributions to our state will not be forgotten," Manchin said. "Thomas McHugh was very considerate to step up to the plate and assist the Court while Justice Albright and his family were going through a difficult time, and once again Tom has been so kind to accept my appointment to serve again on the West Virginia Supreme Court."
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 before retiring at the end of 1997. After his retirement, he practiced law in the Charleston law firm of Allen Guthrie McHugh and Thomas. Since 2003, he had been of counsel and had restricted his practice to mediation.
He was born in Charleston on March 26, 1936, and is a 1958 graduate of West Virginia University and a 1964 Distinguished Military Graduate of 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.
McHugh served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army from 1958 to1961.
He served as law clerk to state Supreme Court Justice Harlan Calhoun from 1966-1968. He was elected a Kanawha Circuit Court judge in 1974, re-elected in 1976 and served as chief circuit judge from 1974 to 1980.
McHugh was President of the West Virginia Judicial Association in 1981-1982. He is a former member of the Judicial Review Board of West Virginia and was a member of the Visiting Committee of the West Virginia University College of Law from 1991 to 1995, serving as Chairman of that Committee from 1994 to 1995. He was a member of the Dean Search Committee of the West Virginia University College of Law from 1991 to 1992 and from 1997 to 1998.
He is the recipient of the Mountain Honorary, Distinguished West Virginian Award, the 1996 Special Award of Achievement in the Administration of Justice from The West Virginia State Bar, the 1996 Public Service Award from the Mountain State Bar Association, a 1998 Certification of Completion of Mediation Training from Duke University Private Adjudication Center, the 1998 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Kanawha County Bar Association, the 1998 Justicia Officium Award from the West Virginia University College of Law. Justice McHugh is a West Virginia Bar Foundation Fellow; Emeritus Member, Judge John A. Field, Jr., American Inns of Court. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Children's Home Society of West Virginia. He is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Thomas Memorial Hospital. He is a member of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference.
McHugh and his wife, Judy, have four children, Karen, Cindy, James, and John; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.