Benjamin

CHARLESTON – West Virginia's new Supreme Court of Appeals decided its first 10 cases without a single dissent.

The perfect harmony among the Justices heralds a new era as plainly as Chief Justice Brent Benjamin's opening ceremony with fife and drum music on Jan. 13.

Dissenting came as naturally as breathing to the previous Court.

Justice Larry Starcher penned more and more dissents as his term ran out, and he saved up a batch of them for release on his final day.

Justice Spike Maynard didn't dissent as often as Starcher. But when he did, he sometimes outdid Starcher in colorful language.

Being the only Republican Justice, Benjamin regularly dissented, too.

Justice Joseph Albright wrote few dissents but often joined Starcher's.

The dissenting bug never bit Justice Robin Davis, probably because her point of view seemed to prevailed so often.

Voters rejected Maynard last spring, illness sidelined Albright last summer and Starcher retired at the end of the 2008 term.

Former Justice Thomas McHugh continues filled in for Albright. Voters picked Margaret Workman and Menis Ketchum to replace Maynard and Starcher.

So far, the new group has succeeded at building consensus.

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