CHARLESTON — A Charleston attorney filed pre-candidacy papers for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals last month in a bid to fix, what he calls, a broken system.
"Sometimes we need to be the change we want to see," William K. Schwartz said in an interview with The West Virginia Record. "I want change, and I'm looking around and asking, 'why not me?'"
Schwartz filed pre-candidacy papers to run in the next election, which isn't until 2020 as of right now. That could change depending on what happens with suspended Justice Allen Loughry's federal indictment, state Judicial Investigation Commission charges and possible impeachment proceedings.
William K. Schwartz
Schwartz said he got the idea to run after a recent law school reunion.
"I went to Washington and Lee for law school ... it was my 30-year reunion, so I made sure I went back to be part of it," Schwartz said. "It was a big deal to me. About 30 of us were there and I'm the only West Virginia guy at the table — most of the others are from Virginia or Texas — no one else from West Virginia."
Schwartz said one of his old classmates from Texas pointed his finger at him and asked, "Hey, Schwartz, how many justices are going to be indicted this year?"
"And I laughed, but it made me angry and I couldn't stop thinking about it," Schwartz said. "I was embarrassed to say I was a West Virginia lawyer."
Schwartz said a week later, while in Princeton visiting his father-in-law, he ran into another attorney friend who asked him if he had ever considered running for the state Supreme Court.
"She said, 'Bill, have you ever thought of running for the West Virginia Supreme Court?' And I told her no — that I'd never really thought about it. She said I should think about it. So, I did."
Schwartz said he later talked about it with his wife, who thought he was crazy for wanting to run.
"She said, 'Are you crazy? It's a mess up there. You've got people abusing their office. Why would you want to be a part of that?'" Schwartz said. "I told her that if it was perfect there, I wouldn't need to run. I want to fix that. I'm at a point in my career where I've made a good living and I can afford to run and take the time to actually campaign."
Schwartz raised his children in Charleston and practiced law there for 30 years. He said he wants to fix what's broken.
"The bar is not real high for me right now," he said. "Be fair. Apply the law. Don't take the money you don't need. Use your own vehicle. I can hit that bar, but it's going to take more than me."
Schwartz said he thinks there will be three seats available by the 2020 election.
"I hope some more people do this," he said. "If it's me, great. If it's not me, I don't care. Maybe I will inspire someone else to jump in that I might think is good and that's great."
Schwartz said he wants the public to know they have choices.
"I want others to know there are other lawyers who can step up and do this," he said. "I just wanted everyone else to know there are others with decent reputations that are willing to do it and want to serve. This is my way of making the statement that I'm fed up with what's going on."