CHARLESTON – Supreme Court Justice Margaret L. Workman has been honored by West Virginia Living magazine as one of its Wonder Women Class of 2016.
This is the third year the magazine has named a class of Wonder Women that includes 50 women who have made a difference in West Virginia. Workman was named to the Class for 2016 and was called a “Trailblazer” by the magazine.
She is a woman of many firsts, being the first woman named to statewide office in West Virginia. She is also the first woman to serve on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and the first woman to serve as chief justice in the state.
“I think it was very kind of West Virginia Living to include me that award,” Workman told the The West Virginia Record. “I do appreciate receiving that award.
"But I think the real Wonder Woman is the single mother out there working a minimum wage job and supporting her kids. That’s who I would admire as a Wonder Woman.”
Serving two tenures with the Supreme Court of Appeals from 1988 to 1999 and again since 2008, she was named to chief justice in 2011 and 2015. During her time, as chief justice, Workman has been a champion for children, continually working to make their rights heard and matter in the judicial system.
“I’ve been a voice for children and families to try to improve the way the judicial system responds to domestic violence, family problems abuse, and neglect,” Workman said. “I’ve worked over the years to try to create a judicial system that is more effective in its response and neglect.”
In her efforts for children, Workman created the Broadwater Committee that worked to reform the court system’s response to issues surrounding children. She has also created the Task Force on Gender Fairness in the Courts. “That gives children more rights,” Workman said. “Children are human beings that also have rights of their own.”
During both her tenures as chief justice, Workman also developed the Juvenile Justice Commission. This commission works to improve rehabilitation services and provides monitoring of juvenile facilities.
“It’s our responsibility to that kids who are in placement are getting the best possible chance for getting to the bottom of the problems of their lives and helping them become productive citizens,” Workman said.
Workman received her law degree in 1974 from West Virginia University College of Law. Following graduation, she worked as assistant counsel for the majority of the U.S. Senate Public Works Committee and also as a law clerk for the 13th Judicial Circuit. She opened her own law firm in Charleston and then became the youngest circuit court judge in the state in 1981 in Kanawha County.
She is the daughter of a coal miner and the first person in her family to go to college. She is a mother of three, Lindsay, Chris and Ted Gardner, as well as a grandmother to Lilly Elizabeth Gardner.