CHARLESTON – Kanawha County Commission President W. Kent Carper has been reappointed to the Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission by West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin for an additional six-year term.  

The Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission interviews and recommends judicial candidates to the governor for appointment to vacancies throughout the judicial circuits in the state of West Virginia.


“It’s purely advisory,” Carper told The West Virginia Record. “The governor makes the decision [about which judge to appoint].”


Carper said the commission was formed more than six years ago after concerns were raised about the neutrality of the judicial approval process. He said the West Virginia Legislature created a statutory commission with eight commission members appointed by the governor for six-year terms.

Although Carper said he definitely believes judges should be elected by the people they serve, he said the commission plays an important role in bridging the gap between when a vacancy comes open and the next election. As a result, Carper said he is happy to be reappointed for another term on the commission.


“I’m very humbled,” Carper said. “It’s a very important function.”


Carper said the commission interviews candidates and makes recommendations to the governor to fill vacancies for circuit court and family court judges. In addition, he said, the commission would be charged with making a recommendation for a state Supreme Court justice vacancy if necessary.


“I look forward to continuing to work with the full Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission and continuing to make recommendations to the governor and future governor on these very important appointments,” Carper said.


Carper said the commission makes about three to five appointments per year. He estimated that the commission has interviewed 100 to 150 people to fill vacancies in its more than six years in existence.

Carper said it is important for whoever wants to be a judge to go through a very strict process to gain a seat on the bench until the election.


“We wrote very tough vetting requirements,” Carper said.


Carper is also proud of the work done by the commission to date.


“The vast majority of recommendations have been accepted by the governor,” he said.


In addition, he said, the vast majority of judges recommended by the commission have gone on to be elected to the bench after the term that they are appointed to serve out is over.


Carper has been a member of the Kanawha County Commission since 1996. He has been a practicing attorney for 37 years and is currently a partner with the firm Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee and Deitzler, PLLC.


Carper’s background goes beyond legal work and community service. According to a profile on the firm’s website, he is also a former paramedic and former Charleston chief of police. Carper also formerly served as a Kanawha County assistant prosecuting attorney.


Carper is also a ham radio operator and volunteers his services in that capacity in emergencies.


Carper’s legal practice focuses mainly on personal injury litigation but he has done criminal defense work as well.

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Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee and Deitzler PLLC State of West Virginia

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