CHARLESTON – House Speaker Rick Thompson has selected Delegate Tim Miley to chair the House Judiciary Committee.
"Delegate Miley is a talented, experienced attorney and a dedicated delegate," Thompson said in a Tuesday press release. "I believe he will fairly and efficiently lead the policy discussions and debates that are central to the work of the House Judiciary Committee."
Miley, D-Harrison, said he is honored to take the position.
"I'm grateful that the Speaker has the confidence in me to choose me to replace Carrie Webster," Miley, 43, said in the same release. "I look forward to leading the Judiciary Committee and to serving the people of West Virginia."
Miley first was elected to the House in 2004 and was appointed vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee prior to the 2009 regular session.
Gov. Joe Manchin said he is pleased by the move.
"The governor has known Tim for many years and he is truly a hard worker," Manchin spokesman Matt Turner said. "He is well-respected as a delegate and among his constituents. As vice-chair, it was a natural progression as he was involved in running the committee and is experienced from that position.
"The governor looks forward to working with him to continue to move our state forward. Gov. Manchin is confident he will use his legal expertise and public service experience to be a fair and knowledgeable Judiciary Chair."
Thompson said he was fortunate to have a group of qualified, capable delegates from which to choose.
"The flip side of being lucky enough to have so many qualified members -– people who are not just colleagues but friends –- is that I had a difficult decision to make," Thompson, D-Wayne, said. "But with the help of the members of my leadership team, I came to the conclusion that Delegate Miley is the right choice.
"It is a testament to the caliber of people voters are sending to House of Delegates that I could consider several members from various regions of the state, all of whom would make very good chairs. I appreciate that such fine delegates showed an interest in a job that is both challenging and time consuming."
Thompson also selected Delegate Mark Hunt, D-Kanawha, to serve as the Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
"Delegate Hunt is another of the skilled attorneys serving in the House, and he also has worked on the House Judiciary Committee during much of his tenure," Thompson said.
Hunt first was elected to the House in 1994, serving until 2000, then was elected to the House again in 2004 and 2008.
"I very much look forward to having Delegate Hunt serving as Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee," Miley said. "His skills and legislative experience will be invaluable."
"I think the Speaker made an excellent choice in Tim Miley," Hunt added. "He has the experience and skills to do the job well, and I'm going to do my best to help him."
Like Webster and Thompson, both Miley and Hunt are lawyers.
With the start of the 2010 session just weeks away, committee chairs and vice chairs are busy dealing with staffing and other administrative issues.
"Having served as vice chair of the Judiciary Committee, Delegate Miley is well versed in the day-to-day operation of the committee, and I am confident he'll be able to quickly organize and prepare for the session," Thompson said.
"With a committee as busy as the Judiciary Committee, Delegate Hunt and I have a lot of work to do," Miley said. "We are up to the task."
Webster recently was appointed by Manchin to be a Kanawha Circuit judge. She officially will be sworn in on Dec. 28.
The executive director of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse said he is optimistic about Miley's appointment.
"WV CALA hopes that the new leadership in the House Judiciary Committee will give meaningful consideration to much-needed legal reform bills, which unfortunately have been either bottled up or watered down in the House Judiciary Committee in the past," Richie Heath said Wednesday.