CHARLESTON – Menis Ketchum is retiring and resigning from the state Supreme Court.
Ketchum submitted his letter of retirement and resignation July 11 to Gov. Jim Justice, who sent a letter back to Ketchum thanking him for his service to the state.
Ketchum's retirement is effective July 27. That date is significant because that means his seat on the bench can be put before voters on the November ballot.
“I have directed my general counsel to provide the necessary documentation to the Judicial Vacancy Commission and other state agencies as may be appropriate to fill this vacancy created by Justice Ketchum’s resignation,” Gov. Justice said in a statement. Ketchum declined further comment.
The state Legislature begins impeachment proceedings July 12. While Ketchum has been mentioned in controversy surrounding the state Supreme Court, no formal charges have been brought against him. However, the House Judiciary Committee's walking orders were to focus on the full Supreme Court, not just suspended Justice Allen Loughry, who was named in a 22-count federal indictment and 32-count statement of charges by the state Judicial Investigation Commission.
Ketchum was named in an investigation by the state legislative auditor's office for the use of state vehicles by justices for personal gain. The report said Ketchum should have indicated his use of the vehicles on his personal income tax returns but did not.
In 2012, Ketchum got permission from the other justices to use a Supreme Court vehicle to commute between the Capitol and his home in Huntington. He also took the car to several out-of-state golf outings, according to the legislative audit report. It said he also had his W-2 forms retroactively updated to reflect that, and Ketchum paid the state $1,663.81 for incorrect travel expenses.
Aug. 14 is the cutoff date determining if a court vacancy would go on the ballot or would be subject to appointment by the governor.
Ketchum was elected to the Supreme Court in 2008, and his term was scheduled to end in 2020. He was chief justice in 2012 and in 2016. Before joining the court, he was the senior partner at the Huntington law firm of Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel. He spent more than 40 years with the firm.
Ketchum was born in Huntington and graduated from Vinson High School in Wayne County. He attended Ohio University and was part of the 1964 Mid-American Conference champion baseball team. He earned his law degree from West Virginia University College of Law.