West Virginia Record

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

New Business Court Division judge says state 'has always been good to me'

By Carrie Salls | Jan 20, 2017

General court 08

CHARLESTON – A Harrison County circuit judge began a nearly two-year appointment to the Business Court on Jan. 1, finishing out the remainder of the seven-year term of a retiring judge, which ends in October 2019.

James A. Matish was appointed Nov. 9 after former Business Court judge Thomas C. Evans III retired.

“It’s an honor to be selected to serve in that capacity,” Matish told The West Virginia Record.


Fifth Judicial Circuit (Calhoun, Jackson, Mason and Roane counties) Judge Thomas C. Evans III retired on Dec. 31, leaving the vacancy filled by Matish on the Business Court Division.


The West Virginia Judiciary created the division to handle complex commercial litigation among businesses in the state. Business Court Division judges serve seven-year terms. The division was founded in 2012 with an initial complement of three judges. Four more judges were subsequently added to account for an increased workload.


“Judge Matish has an extensive academic and professional background concerning issues important to business, coupled with his years as a jurist,” Business Court Division chairman Christopher C. Wilkes of the 23rd Judicial Circuit (Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties) said in a news release from the state's Supreme Court of Appeals.


Matish said he does not “have any kind of agenda” laid out that sets specific plans for his term on the Business Court Division.


“(As a Business Court Division judge, you want to) move cases along the best you can and be fair and impartial,” he said.


Raised in Harrison County, Matish said he attended the West Virginia University College of Law. He moved back to Harrison County after spending seven years working in Morgantown.


“It was kind of a no-brainer to try to stay here,” Matish said. “West Virginia is a great state, and it’s always been good to me.”


Matish said he has been serving the public for 16 years.


According to the release, Matish is a native of Owings, in Harrison County. He graduated from Shinnston High School. In addition to his law degree from West Virginia College of Law, he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from West Virginia University in 1978. Matish and his wife, Peggy, have one daughter.


From 1978 to 2000, Matish practiced law in Clarksburg. In his practice, he focused on criminal defense work, civic litigation, family law, real estate law and bankruptcy law. He was first elected as a judge in 2000 and was re-elected in 2008 and 2016, the release states.

"He has been appointed several times to sit on the state’s Supreme Court when a justice has been recused from a case," the release states.

He has taught lawyers, law enforcement personnel and magistrates at Salem International University and at West Virginia University College of Law and at other locations in the state.  

Matish has memberships in West Virginia Judicial Association, West Virginia State Bar and the Harrison County Bar Association.

"He is past president and vice president of the Harrison County Bar Association, and a founder and past president of the West Virginia Society for Criminal Justice," the release states.

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Organizations in this Story

West Virginia UniversityState of West VirginiaWest Virginia Judicial Association