CHARLESTON — West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals candidate Ron Hatfield hopes to bring awareness to State Bar Association programs and increase public awareness if elected to the bench.
Hatfield is running in Division 1, seat of former Justice Menis Ketchum. The term expires in 2020.
Hatfield said campaigning is hard work but there are many organizations putting together events to help candidates reach the entire state.
"It’s exhausting because I have never run for anything before. Making it around the state to start out on a statewide election is a pretty enormous task when you realize you’re going to need to touch people outside of your local community or even your county," Hatfield said in an interview with The West Virginia Record.
"The good thing is there are plenty of organizations putting together some events giving us the opportunity to reach the state. It’s still a pretty enormous task to reach the entire state."
Hatfield said what makes campaigning easier is that people are more interested in the races and are making an effort to find out information about candidates and events.
"You’re reaching more people," Hatfield said.
He decided to run because he saw it as a call to duty.
"When all of these things started to occur, it made me look at my career and realize that I was satisfied and had accomplished everything I had set out to does a lawyer," Hatfield said. "I felt successful. This opportunity came about to be able to use all of the skills and training over the last 18 years to go beyond a one-on-one client interaction in obtaining results in a single case here and there. I can use my abilities in a way through my chosen profession to touch the whole state and make a difference across the state."
Hatfield said although serving as a Supreme Court justice isn't something he has been dreaming of since childhood, it is the pinnacle of his profession.
"It’s an honorable position to make a difference for all West Virginia citizens," Hatfield said.
He believes his 18 years of courtroom experience help him stand out among the other candidates in his division.
"In order to understand how a courtroom is to work, you need to have spent time in a courtroom," Hatfield said. "I’ve done that much of the last 18 years. I’ve represented clients in a wide range of cases and situations, from criminal law to abuse and neglect, to mental hygiene. I’ve been in family court and municipal court. I’ve done civil cases, both plaintiff and defense. I’ve addressed many of the issues the cases that make their way to the Supreme Court typically arise from."
Hatfield said his experience as a business owner also sets him apart.
"I opened a solo practice many years ago and grew that into a small firm, which merged into the firm I'm with now, which is part of a nationwide firm," he said. "We serve clients all across the country."
Hatfield said it’s taught him fiscal responsibility.
"I’ve been personally responsible since the days of my solo practice and up through today for millions and millions of dollars of my clients’ money and my partners’ money," Hatfield said. "I’ve never been questioned what that money is being spent on."
He also points to his military background as also setting him apart from the other candidates.
"I’m a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and that requires integrity, discipline and accountability," Hatfield said. "All of those traits combined with all the experience that I’ve gained in playing all of those rolls has certainly made me a leader. I’ve been a leader in the Marines, in my law firm and now I’m ready to be a leader on the Supreme Court."
Hatfield said from a perspective of transparency and accountability, he wants to increase public awareness of what’s going on it the court.
"I think there are efforts being made to do that," he said. "I will certainly work to increase transparency so that the public knows what is going on."
Hatfield said there has been some discussion regarding electronic filing and public access and he wants to work to implement and increase these advances statewide.
"More specific to me and things that are important to me, I would like to work with the State Bar to create incentives for lawyers who would like to do more pro bono work," Hatfield said. "It’s a difficult thing to fit into our practices because we all have bills to pay and we have to do the work that pays us so we can pay our bills."
He also wants more incentives to get more lawyers to stay involved in appointed cases.
"I’d also like to raise awareness of the State Bar’s activities with the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee," Hatfield said. "It’s been in existence for a while, but I’m not sure how many people are even aware of it. I’d like to bring awareness to it."
Hatfield is the local managing partner at Litchfield Cavo in Barboursville. He graduated from West Virginia University College of Law in 2000 with his law degree and from Marshall University in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in history.