BECKLEY – I had not been practicing law very long when I first met Justice Brent Benjamin, but longtime observers of the state Supreme Court have told me him taking a seat on the bench in 2005 brought a refreshing perspective to the Court.
Justice Benjamin has a reputation of impartiality, and he is considered the hallmark of a fair and unbiased justice who follows strict interpretation of the Constitution and rigorous conservative principles of law.
Even though Justice Benjamin sits on the highest court in West Virginia, I consider him a friend and colleague. Furthermore, even though we may sit on different sides of the ideological fence on some issues, I know Justice Benjamin always will be fair.
I would also like to add that I have worked with Justice Benjamin on the West Virginia Access to Justice Commission and other projects, and I have found him to be a very honorable justice and a jurist who believes in advancing the judicial system in the right direction.
Consider that in each term of the Court, justices are assigned roughly the same number of cases and the justice. When a justice authors an opinion, the justice writing the Court’s decision may create new syllabus points to present a new point of law if the justice believes it is necessary to decide a given case.
Scrutiny of Justice Benjamin’s decisions shows that he does not prejudge cases and that his conservative interpretation of the law upholds the ideals that the judiciary be, above all else, independent.
Justice Benjamin’s record shows that he clearly decides cases based on existing law, including the U.S. and West Virginia Constitutions and eschews creating new syllabus points unless absolutely necessary.
The conclusion, therefore, is that Justice Benjamin will stick to his conservative principles and give well reasoned opinions on a case without creating unnecessary points of law.
Robinson, of Beckley, is a member of the Charleston law firm of Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown and Poe, a graduate of Marshall University, Western Michigan University-Thomas M. Cooley Law School and was president of the West Virginia Bar in 2014-2015.