CHARLESTON – The swearing-in ceremony for newly appointed Kanawha Circuit Judge Dan Greear is scheduled for July 23.
The event will take place at 3:30 p.m. in the ceremonial courtroom in the historic Kanawha County Courthouse, located at 409 Virginia Street East. State Supreme Court Justice Beth Walker will deliver the oath of office.
Gov. Jim Justice appointed Greear to the bench July 2 to fill the seat left vacant by the retirement of Judge James C. Stucky.
“I am honored to serve the residents of Kanawha County and humbled to have been selected out of a pool of many qualified attorneys for this privilege," Greear said shortly after the July 2 announcement. "I'd like to thank Gov. Jim Justice and the Judicial Vacancy Advisory Committee for this opportunity.
"The 13th Circuit is one of the busiest courts in the state, so I understand Gov. Justice’s desire to fill the empty seat until voters can elect a permanent replacement in November."
Greear is a lifelong Kanawha County resident. He graduated from South Charleston High School, received his bachelor’s degree from Liberty University and his law degree from West Virginia University. Greear and his wife, Amy, have two sons, Josh and Ben, who attend the U.S. Naval Academy and Cross Lanes Christian School respectively.
Greear has more than 20 years of litigation experience and tried more than 75 cases to completion representing both plaintiffs and defendants. In the past five years, Greear has been intimately involved in two major transitions of offices in state government, first as the Chief Counsel in the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, and then as Chief of Staff for the West Virginia House of Delegates.
He previously has ran for a seat on the Kanawha Circuit Court as well as for state Attorney General.
“I truly love Kanawha County," Greear said. "I believe I have the right experience and right values to serve as the next 13th Circuit Court Judge and ensure that the court is heading in the right direction so our streets are safe, our laws are followed, and everyone has equal access to justice."
Last month, the Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission recommended four names to Justice for the vacancy after interviewing eight candidates June 21. It recommended Greear, Benjamin Mishoe, Gary Pullin and Tera Salango for the temporary position.
Stucky retired April 30 because of medical issues after 21 years on the job.
Greear and Salango also have filed paperwork showing they plan to seek the permanent position, which will be on the November general election ballot.
State Senate President Mitch Carmichael praised Justice's selection of Greear for "such an important judicial position."
"Mr. Greear brings proven conservative principals, honor, integrity, and wisdom to this vital role,” Carmichael said. “Dan will bring professionalism, dedication, and adherence to the rule of law to this judicial appointment. I am confident that Dan will be an excellent judge and make Kanawha County very proud.
"I am so pleased that the Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission and the Governor recognized these outstanding qualities and made a terrific decision in this appointment.”
House Speaker Tim Armstead agreed.
"I couldn't be happier that the Governor appointed Dan Greear to the bench," Armstead said. "For nearly four years, Dan has been my trusted right hand in the House and a good friend for many, many years before that. His character and work ethic make him the best person to serve the citizens of Kanawha County on the bench.
"I know he will apply the law fairly and consistently, and handle each case that comes before him with the greatest respect and care. I'll miss him greatly in the House, but congratulate Dan, his wife Amy and sons Josh and Ben on the beginning of this new journey and wish them all the best."
Gov. Cecil Underwood first appointed Stucky as a circuit judge in 1997. He was elected for three terms in 2000, 2008, and 2016. Stucky retired with six years remaining on an eight-year term.
Since Stucky’s retirement, senior status judges Thomas Evans III and David Pancake have presided over his cases.
Justice issued a proclamation May 29 officially calling for the special election. Article 8 Section 7 of the state Constitution empowers the governor to issue a directive for a special election to fill judicial vacancies when there are more than two years left on the office's term.
State Code 3-10-3 say that when a judicial vacancy occurs after the close of the candidate filing period for the primary election and no later than 84 days before the general election, the vacancy shall be filled by a nonpartisan election to run concurrent with the general election. According to state code, the filing period for candidates wishing to seek this seat is Aug. 6 to Aug. 21. Those interested must file certificates of candidacy with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office.