GRUNDY, Va. – West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Larry V. Starcher gave the commencement address May 12 at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va.
The school was founded in 1997 to serve Central Appalachia and graduated its first class in 2000. This year 104 members of the Class of 2007 received the Juris Doctor degree during the May 12 ceremony.
Starcher's address was entitled, "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" after a Dr. Seuss book by the same name that began as a commencement address.
"Today is another step in building a unique institution that serves the people of this region, and the people of the United States," Starcher said, according to a Supreme Court press release. "We are proud of the graduates of the Appalachian School of Law -– past and present -– and we are proud of your school. Just this week our West Virginia Supreme Court admitted to the practice of law in our state several of your graduates.
"You are about to enter and take your place in what I often refer to as the most-coveted of all professions. And I believe this is because lawyers play a unique role in a democratic society, such as ours. ...
"Lawyers willingly take on the challenges and controversies, from their individual communities to the highest places in our nation. Each day, each season, each year, we witness new and tougher issues that lawyers are expected to resolve.
"For example, a huge challenge our legal system is facing every day is the tension between individual rights of liberty and privacy, and the pressure to reduce those rights in the name of public safety. Now, this is not a new tension. Our nation was founded by people who had the radical idea that the police – at that time the king – could not come into your home without a warrant, unless it was an emergency. ...
"If our history teaches us one thing, it is that giving unfettered discretion to the public officials charged with public safety is the surest way to tyranny and abuse," Starcher said.
Starcher was born in Roane County on Sept. 25, 1942. He has a bachelor's degree and law degree from West Virginia University. He was elected circuit judge in Monongalia County in 1976 and served as a circuit judge for 20 years, 18 as chief judge. During that time he held every office in the West Virginia Judicial Association and served as a special judge in 23 of West Virginia's 55 counties.
Starcher was elected to the Supreme Court in 1996. He served as chief justice in 1999 and 2003. He has served as an adjunct lecturer at the West Virginia University College of Law from 1992 to the present.
He is married to the former Rebecca Wiles and has three adult children.