CHARLESTON – The Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission will meet Nov. 20 to set deadlines for the process of interviewing applicants for the vacant seat on the state Supreme Court.
Debra Scudiere, chairwoman of the JVAC, said the phone meeting will be when commissioners set the deadline for applications, the deadline for letters of recommendation or comment as well as the actual interview date.
The JVAC is a mix of attorneys and lay members that interviews applicants for judicial vacancies on the state Supreme Court, Circuit Courts, Family Courts and Magistrate Courts. Scudiere said the committee deliberates after the interviews and then sends a list of the two to five persons it believes are the most qualified candidates to the governor's office.
"Then the governor makes his pick," Scudiere said. "He can choose from the names that we have offered, or he can make a selection outside that list."
Earlier this year, the JVAC conducted interviews to fill the Supreme Court seats of retired Justices Menis Ketchum and Robin Jean Davis. In August, the commission interviewed a total of 13 candidates for the two vacancies on the court. They recommended a total of nine names (four for one vacancy, and five for the other) to Gov. Jim Justice.
This round of interviews will be for someone to fill the seat of former Justice Allen Loughry, who resigned earlier this month after he was found guilty on 11 federal felony counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, witness tampering and lying to federal agents. He faced impeachment before his resignation, and he still must go before the state Judicial Investigation Commission to answer charges of 32 counts of misconduct.
His federal sentencing is scheduled for January.
Loughry's term lasts until 2024, but this appointment will serve until 2020 when the next election takes place. Whoever is elected then will serve through 2024.
Scudiere said the process for a position on the Supreme Court basically is the same as when the JVAC recommends names for any other open seat.
"The biggest difference is that the interviews for vacancies on Circuit Courts and Family Courts are usually 15-20 minutes," she told The West Virginia Record. "For the interviews for the last two Supreme Court vacancies, the commission decided to expand that time to half an hour.
"I don’t know whether, for the interviews for this third Supreme Court vacancy, the commissioners will want to keep the half-hour schedule or go back to shorter interview times. That will probably depend on how many applicants we have."
Scudiere said there is a bit of a time crunch this time because the Supreme Court's spring term begins in January.
"The commission may decide at its organizational meeting to shorten the time periods for the candidates to submit their applications and for the interview date to be scheduled," she said.