With bathroom floors clean, Ketchum ready for new term

By Chris Dickerson | Jan 9, 2009


CHARLESTON – What did the state's newest Supreme Court justice do on New Year's Day?

Prepare for the upcoming term by reading briefs? Watch a college football bowl game?

No, Menis Ketchum spent the day scrubbing and cleaning the grout in his new state Capitol office bathroom.

"My bathroom is all marble, originally from when the Capitol was built in the 1920s," Ketchum said. "My wife Judy and I -- mainly my wife -- we spent New Year's Day cleaning that floor. We wanted to clean the grout. We were on our hands and knees with a steel brush, scrubbing all that grout, cleaning it with this mixture she create and Cloroxing it."

Ketchum stressed that the janitorial staff does an excellent job of keeping the bathroom clean. But he says you now could eat off of his bathroom floor.

"It's spick and span now," he said. "We scrubbed it and Cloroxed it three times getting that grout clean. There was grit there from the 1920s!"

The next day, Ketchum and his wife spent the day throwing out trash and getting the office – which had been home to former Justice Larry Starcher -- the way he wanted it.

"We're not going to get new furniture," he said. "I'm not too worried about that stuff right now. We may paint the walls later, but I don't want workers in here right now as the term is about to begin."

As for the term, Ketchum said he is eager to get started.

"I'm all set up," he said. "I've read all of the briefs and petitions and writs that will come before us through the month of January. I had those sent to me in December, so I'm ready to go.

"I've already been assigned some cases that I'll be writing, and I've been meeting with my clerks."

The Wayne County native and longtime Huntington-area attorney said the entire process of learning the ins and outs of the Supreme Court has been "wonderful."

"We started working immediately preparing for arguments and petitions next week," Ketchum said. "All five Justices have been here. It's been very, very cordial. I think everybody is going to get along, and it's going to be a great court."

On his staff, Ketchum kept two of Starcher's former clerks in Matt Crabtree and Peter Chambers. He hired one of former Justice Spike Maynard's former clerks in Melia Atwell. His fourth clerk is Mark Farrell. He brought Ruth Melvin, his secretary for 36 years, with him from his Huntington firm.

"Everybody here at the Court has really been helpful," Ketchum said. "The other justices have been great. The entire staff has been great, showing us what we need to do."

Ketchum also said he is enjoying the camaraderie with the other Justices.

"It's a nice place," he said. "I enjoy just sitting around with the other justices talking about cases and law."

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