HUNTINGTON – West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Menis Ketchum II will give the address at Marshall University’s graduation in May.
The commencement ceremony for undergraduates is set for Saturday, May 7.
“I am extremely honored that our new president extended me the invitation to speak at commencement,” Ketchum said. “Candidates for graduation are not interested in speeches but want to celebrate their accomplishment.
"With that in mind, I will try to be interesting but short, and look forward to being part of their big day.”
Ketchum served as chairman and vice chairman of Marshall’s Board of Governors from 2003 to 2008, before joining the Supreme Court. He was elected to a full 12-year term to the court on Nov. 4, 2008, and he also served as chief justice in 2012. The position of chief justice is determined annually by a vote of the court.
“Menis has done a great deal for Marshall University over the years,” Marshall President Jerome A. Gilbert said. “The university made great strides during his time of leadership, including new private investments that totaled more than $100 million. I look forward to hearing what I am certain will be an inspiring message from the chief justice to our graduates.”
Ketchum was born and raised in Wayne County, graduating from Vinson High School in the Westmoreland section of Huntington in 1960. He then attended Ohio University, where he played baseball and was a member of the Bobcats’ 1964 Mid-American Conference championship team.
Ketchum returned to West Virginia to attend the West Virginia University College of Law. While in law school he was a contributing writer and associate editor of the West Virginia Law Review. He received his law degree in 1967 and returned to Huntington to join his father Chad W. Ketchum in the practice of law with the firm of Greene, Ketchum & Baker.
He practiced at that firm and its successors, eventually becoming the senior partner until his election to the court. Ketchum's law practice included insurance defense, personal injury and criminal defense. He was recognized from 1989 to 2008 in The Best Lawyers in America and was a member of the Leading Honoraries, the American College of Trial Lawyers, and the American Board of Trial Advocates.
After five years of research, Ketchum recently published a set of uniformed jury instructions for use in civil cases in the state's courts. The instructions are intended to be more understandable to jurors, judges and lawyers, and to help trials run more efficiently. More than 20 lawyers and judges from around the state helped create the instructions, which cover 15 topics ranging from employment law to wrongful death.
Throughout his legal career, Ketchum published legal articles and presented numerous continuing legal education seminars. At the time of his election to the court, he served on the boards of the Public Defender Corporations for the Sixth and 24th Judicial Circuits. He also previously served on the Huntington Urban Renewal Authority, participated in the statewide Vision Shared Health Care Team and the Governor's Mine Safety Task Force.
He has been married to the former Judy Varnum since 1966. Judy is a Marshall graduate and was a cheerleader at MU. They have three children — Kelli Morgan, Bert Ketchum and Chad Ketchum — and six grandchildren.