Workman responds to Sprouse comments

By The West Virginia Record | Sep 27, 2007


I usually take criticism, even if sometimes unfair, as just part of what comes with being in public life. But Vic Sprouse's personal attack on me published last week in your newspaper merits response, if for no other reason than its sheer factual inaccuracy.

Vic states that I stepped down during the "middle of (my) last term" on the Supreme Court. For the record, I served as a Judge and a Justice for eighteen years, a significant portion of my adult work life, so my commitment to the Judiciary was anything but "fly-by-night." And in fact, I served about 95 percent of the twelve-year term, not one-half of it as Sprouse implies.

I almost had to laugh when Vic characterized me as being "not personable outside the South Hills tea and crumpet set" and stated that I could not relate to "people from Marmet ...who don't know the proper use of fondue forks." I guess he was trying to imply that I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. If Vic knew anything about my life or the truth, he would know that I grew up in a family of working poor people. We never owned a home, but lived in various rental properties on the West Side flat lands, the old Triangle District, and even in a public housing project. I used my wagon to help my mom carry the family laundry to a coin-operated laundromat. So I know what it is to work and can relate to all types of people. I don't know if Vic was trying to poke some kind of derision at Marmet, but I have many, many friends there; and have found people in the Eastern end of the county to be among the most genuine and friendly I have ever met.

I left office just before the end of my term in part because I believe that those who stay in public office permanently, without ever working in the private sector, are not the most effective public servants. But even more importantly, I left after 95 percent of my term was up because I had three kids who were entering adolescence who I felt needed more of my time. I didn't think I should stay on the public payroll unless I was able to give it the 100 percent that I always had.

I am glad I made that decision and would do it again, because I have my priorities straight. My children have always come first. That is something that Vic Sprouse will never understand.

Workman is a Charleston attorney.

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