CHARLESTON – A West Virginia University College of Law professor is the first to throw his hat into the ring for the 2008 state Supreme Court race.
Bob Bastress filed pre-candidacy papers with the Secretary of State's office on April 24. A Democrat, Bastress also ran for a seat on the Court in 2000.
"I'm running because I think I can contribute, and I think I'd be good at it," Bastress, 58, said Wednesday. "I think the most important thing is that you have to keep an open mind and look at the issues objectively. I would hope I could function with compassion and objectivity.
"Of course, when you're on the court, you take what they bring you."
Bastress said he thinks 2008 is a good year for him to win a Supreme Court seat for a few reasons.
"First, the usual pool of candidates would be circuit judges, but they would have to forgo their local seats to run," he said. "And they rarely do that. So I don't think too many circuit judges will run.
"And the fact that there are two seats (Justices Larry Starcher and Spike Maynard) up in 2008. That makes it easier for a relative (political) novice to be successful.
"Because I ran before, I have some statewide name recognition, and it sometimes takes a couple of runs."
Bastress is married to House of Delegates member Barbara Evans Fleischauer, who also already has filed to retain her 44th District seat there. They have two children.
At WVU's College of Law, Bastress teaches classes in topics ranging from constitutional law to skills courses such as interviewing, negotiating and counseling.
"Bastress is known among law students and graduates for his accessibility -- not just during their time at the College of Law, but also after graduation in regard to career options or specific cases they are handling," his College of Law Web site biography says.
Bastress not only developed teaching materials for his West Virginia constitution class, but he also wrote the book – called "The West Virginia Constitution" – that has become the accepted authority for the courts and practitioners.
WVU College of Law Dean John Fisher describes Bastress as "an innovator within legal education" and "one of the most successful scholars in our College."
Bastress has been active in civil liberties and civil rights issues, having served on state and national boards of the American Civil Liberties Union and participated in significant public interest litigation. For his public service work, he has received awards from the Mountain State Bar, the ACLU of West Virginia, the West Virginia State Bar and the WVU College of Law.
A 1971 graduate of Wesleyan University, Bastress earned his J.D. at Vanderbilt University in 1974 and an LL.M. in 1978 at Temple University, where he served as Abraham Freedman Fellow and Clinical Instructor in Law from 1976-78. Prior to entering the LL.M. program, Bastress served as staff attorney for the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund in Barboursville, Ky., and for two years as its directing attorney.
He joined the WVU College of Law faculty in 1978 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 1981 and professor in 1986.