CHARLESTON – New House Speaker Tim Miley has filled his former spot as chair of the Judiciary Committee with a colleague who has a similar background.

On July 18, Miley, who was elected Speaker of the House a month earlier, named his leadership team. Tim Manchin is his choice for Judiciary chair, seven months after former House Speaker Rick Thompson had named Manchin the vice chair of the committee.

“Having worked side by side with Delegate Manchin on the Judiciary Committee, I greatly value his abilities and service,” Miley said.

“He has a great legal mind that is matched by an outstanding work ethic and I have tremendous confidence that the Judiciary Committee under his leadership will be extremely productive and successful.”

Miley is a Democratic personal injury attorney whose practice, the Miley Legal Group, is in Clarksburg. Manchin is also a Democratic personal injury attorney, and his practice, the Manchin Injury Law Group, is in nearby Fairmont.

Manchin was first appointed to the House of Delegates in 2003 after the passing of his uncle, A. James. Manchin. He is the cousin of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.

Tim Manchin has also served on the House Finance Committee and was chair of the House Political Subdivisions Committee.

“Speaker Miley and I have worked together in the Legislature as friends and colleagues for 10 years,” Manchin said.

“I was proud to serve as his vice chairman on the Judiciary Committee and I am excited because I know the great job he will do in leading our Legislature in the future.

“I am honored at the trust and confidence he has bestowed upon me to serve as chairman of the Judiciary Committee – the most sought-after position for any lawyer in the Legislature is to be named chairman of the Judiciary Committee by the Speaker.”

One of the main accomplishments of the Judiciary Committee during the 2013 regular session was a bill that made permanent the public financing program used in the 2012 state Supreme Court election. The only candidate to utilize the program was Republican Allen Loughry, who was elected to one of the two open seats on the court.

Legal reform group Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse was upset by the news of Manchin's promotion and issued a statement. The group had called the election of Miley as Speaker “unfortunate” and said he voted against many of the positive legal reforms passed by the House in recent years.

“It’s becoming very clear that the winners under the Miley speakership are the personal injury lawyers who filed abusive lawsuits and oppose much needed legal reforms our state needs to attract job creators,” CALA executive director Greg Thomas said.

“Speaker Miley and Delegate Tim Manchin opposed third-party bad faith legal reforms, which were proposed by then-Governor Joe Manchin and, since being enacted, have lowered auto insurance rates for all West Virginians.

“The record of Speaker Miley and Delegate Manchin sends a clear message that much needed legal reforms are dead on arrival in the House of Delegates.”

The rest of Miley’s leadership structure is:

Majority Leader: Harry Keith White of Mingo County
Majority Whip: Mike Caputo of Marion County
Speaker Pro Tem: Randy Swartzmiller of Hancock County
Finance Chair: Brent Boggs of Braxton County
Education Chair: Mary Poling of Barbour County
Government Organization Chair: Jim Morgan of Cabell County
Health Chair: Don Perdue of Wayne County
Finance Vice Chair: Doug Reynolds of Cabell County
Judiciary Vice Chair: Mark Hunt of Kanawha County
Education Vice Chair: David Perry of Fayette County
Government Organization Vice Chair: Dale Stephens of Cabell County
Health Vice Chair: Barbara Fleischauer of Monongalia County

From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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