Commission to host hearings on judicial reform

By The West Virginia Record | Aug 26, 2009

CHARLESTON -– Independent Commission on Judicial Reform Chairman Carte Goodwin informed Gov. Joe Manchin that the commission will host public hearings at Marshall University, West Virginia University and in Charleston in the coming days.

"Our judicial system is too important, not to act without listening to public concerns," Gov. Joe Manchin said in a statement. "I thank the commission's members for taking time out of their daily schedules to listen to West Virginians' suggestions and ideas.

"I am honored that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has accepted an invitation to join us for the Morgantown event. She will bring her many years of exemplary service to this hearing and offer much-needed insight on the current composition of our state's judicial system."

O'Connor, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, is expected to attend the upcoming hearing in Morgantown mid-September.

"This is an extremely important topic that I worked on nearly forty years ago as a member of the Arizona state senate," O'Connor said in the statement. "It is helpful and wise for Governor Manchin to have established this commission to examine the best options for West Virginia's judicial selection system."

The details of the events follow:

* Friday, Aug. 28 at Marshall University, Huntington:
Topic is Campaign Finance. Experts will speak on a number of topics including the current state of the law in West Virginia and potential reforms including other states' experiences with the public financing of judicial elections.

* Monday, Sept. 21 at West Virginia University College of Law, Morgantown:
Topic is Judicial Selection. O'Connor is expected to attend.

* Monday, Sept. 29 at the Governor's Press Conference Room, State Capitol, Charleston:
Topic is Judicial Organization. The panel will explore issues surrounding creation of intermediate court of appeals, courts of chancery, etc.

The Commission will study the need for judicial reforms, such as, but not limited to: adopting a merit-based system of judicial selection, enacting judicial campaign finance reforms or reporting requirements, creating an intermediate court of appeals, proposing constitutional amendments or establishing a court of chancery.

The commission's findings will be presented to the governor by Nov. 15. More details to follow on the commission's Web site,

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