MARTINSBURG -– The late Judge W. Craig Broadwater was honored Wednesday with the 2007 West Virginia Law Day Liberty Bell Award.
Four West Virginia Supreme Court justices spoke at the ceremony honoring Broadwater. Several circuit court judges will spoke at the event, which was held during a luncheon at the Martinsburg Holiday Inn Ballroom.
The Liberty Bell Award 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.
Broadwater was born in Doddridge County in 1950, raised in Wetzel County and graduated from West Virginia University in 1972. He accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and after serving two years returned to WVU, where he attended law school. He joined the West Virginia Army National Guard in 1976 and rose to the level of brigadier general. At the time of his death on Dec. 18, 2006, he was serving as assistant adjutant general for installations, activities and homeland security.
He served as a special prosecutor in Ohio County from 1978 to 1979 and from 1982 to 1983. He was a hearing examiner for the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Fund from 1978 to 1981. Former Gov. Jay Rockefeller appointed him to the 1st Circuit bench in 1983, and he was elected the following year. He served until he was appointed to the federal bench in 1996.
Broadwater lived in Wheeling and served the circuit that includes Ohio, Brooke and Hancock counties. He was chairman of the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission from 1986 to 1987, served as co-chairman of the Family Law Masters Rules of Practice and Procedures Committee and was chairman of the Committee to Develop Child Abuse and Neglect Rules, popularly called the "Broadwater Committee."
He then became the first chairman of that group's successor, the Court Improvement Board, a position he held until he assumed the federal bench in Martinsburg.
He was 56 when he died of cancer. He is survived by his wife, Chong H. Kang, and three children.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis, Justice Joseph P. Albright, Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard, and Justice Brent D. Benjamin spoke at Wednesday's ceremony. Justice Larry V. Starcher is recovering from eye surgery and did not attend.