Kanawha County unveils portrait of Justice McHugh

By Kyla Asbury | Dec 21, 2012


CHARLESTON – A portrait of retiring state Supreme Court Justice Thomas E. McHugh was scheduled to be held Dec. 20 during a ceremony at the Kanawha County Courthouse.

The ceremony was held in the second floor “ceremonial” courtroom.

McHugh’s portrait commemorates his tenure as a Kanawha circuit judge from 1974 through 1980.

McHugh is retiring from the state Supreme Court on Dec. 31 after more than 20 years of service as a justice and 26 as a judicial officer.

He was most recently elected to the Supreme Court in 2010 to a two-year term.

McHugh began sitting by Designation as Senior Status Justice on the Supreme Court on Sept. 1, 2008, when the chief justice appointed him to serve during the illness of Justice Joseph Albright, and he was reappointed on Jan. 1, 2009, for the same purpose.

After Albright’s death on March 20, 2009, then-Chief Justice Brent Benjamin appointed him to serve in Albright’s position until the governor named a replacement.

On April 8, 2009, then-Gov. Joe Manchin III appointed McHugh to the Supreme Court to serve until the 2010 general election. At that time he was elected to complete Albright’s 12-year term, which ends on Dec. 31.

McHugh previously was elected to the court in 1980 and was re-elected to a second 12-year term in 1992. He served as chief justice in 1984, 1988, 1992, 1995 and 1996. He retired on in 1997. After his retirement, he practiced law at the Charleston law firm of Allen Guthrie McHugh and Thomas, where he was of counsel.

McHugh was born in Charleston on March 26, 1936, and is a 1958 graduate of West Virginia University and a Distinguished Military Graduate, and he is a 1964 graduate of West Virginia University College of Law.

In law school, McHugh was a member of the Order of Coif, a legal honorary, and was associate editor of the West Virginia Law Review.

He served as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army from 1958 to 1961.

McHugh was a law clerk to West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Harlan Calhoun from 1966 to 1968. He was elected judge in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County in 1974, re-elected in 1976, and served as chief circuit judge from 1974 through 1980.

McHugh was president of the West Virginia Judicial Association in 1981 and 1982. He is also a former member of the Judicial Review Board of West Virginia and was a member of the Visiting Committee of the West Virginia University College of Law from 1991 to 1995, serving as chairman of that committee from 1994 to 1995. He was a member of the Dean Search Committee of the West Virginia University College of Law from 1991 to 1992 and from 1997 to 1998.

He is a member of the Mountain Honorary and Beta Theta Pi social fraternity at West Virginia University, and is a recipient of the Distinguished West Virginian Award, the 1996 Special Award of Achievement in the Administration of Justice from The West Virginia State Bar, the 1996 Public Service Award from the Mountain State Bar Association, a 1998 Certification of Completion of Mediation Training from Duke University Private Adjudication Center, the 1998 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Kanawha County Bar Association, the 1998 Justicia Officium Award from the West Virginia University College of Law, and The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Silver Good Citizenship Medal award.

McHugh is a West Virginia Bar Foundation Fellow and Emeritus Member, Judge John A. Field Jr., American Inns of Court. He is Director Emeritus of the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, is chairman of the Board of Trustees of Thomas Memorial Hospital and is a member of the West Virginia Center for Civic Life Board of Directors. McHugh is also a member of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference.

He and his wife, Judy, have four children – Karen, Cindy, James, and John – seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

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