CHARLESTON -- Justice Spike Maynard earned the loudest laughter at a West Virginia Bar Association reception for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Sept. 6, by observing that the word "respect" can signal something else.
In the great hall of the Cultural Center west of the Capitol, Maynard told about 100 lawyers that he hears key words when lawyers get ready to say mean things to judges.
He said it reminded him of a Southern tradition in which one person can say anything about another as long as the speaker adds, "Bless her heart."
He said, "When you hear, 'With all due respect, your honor,' you are getting ready to hear something ugly."
Apparently many in the crowd had heard the phrase or used it themselves, for the joke brought down the house.
The Bar Association throws a reception for the Justices every year as the Supreme Court of Appeals begins its fall term.
Two Justices missed this year's event. Bar Association President Rob Fisher said Joseph Albright and Larry Starcher went to a funeral.
Justice Brent Benjamin told the crowd, "We have some outstanding legal talent in this state and in this room, and that's what we are going to need to move forward."
Maynard said he has been a lucky fellow all his life, adding that he was lucky to associate with the men and women of the quality of the West Virginia Bar.
Chief Justice Robin Davis said the Bar makes the job of the Justices easier. She said, "The briefs and arguments that we get from you are incredible."
Gov. Joe Manchin joined the crowd. He said the Bar held the reception at the governor's mansion last year, and he promised to hold it there next year – "after we get it fixed up."
Maynard told Manchin, "We think you are the best governor in the United States today."
The crowd applauded.