Family court judge will run for Supreme Court in 2020

By Kyla Asbury | Jan 1, 2019

CHARLESTON — Kanawha Family Court Judge Jim Douglas wants there to be someone on the West Virginia Supreme Court with family law experience, so he decided to run in the 2020 election for a seat on the bench.

Douglas will have had 44 years of experience in family law by the time the 2020 election rolls around.

"Family law is so important and we need someone on the Supreme Court who has family law experience," Douglas said in an interview with The West Virginia Record. "Currently, I think only one of the justices on the court has any experience with family law and we need someone who appreciates family law."

Douglas said family law is unique.

"If not me, who? If not in 2020, when? Douglas asked. "I have the qualifications: I've argued 40 cases in front of the Supreme Court—two of which were landmark cases, I've been published in national law journals, I've have been teaching continuing legal education courses in different states for more than 20 years and I've run a law firm."

Douglas said he has also dealt with other judges and has written jury instructions before.

"I know I have disadvantages, too," Douglas said. "I'm not from a big firm and I'm not a sitting circuit judge—I'm a family court judge and a family lawyer."

Douglas said during the 2018 election, none of his opponents even mentioned funding programs for domestic violence, funding for guardians ad litem or LGBTQ rights.

"We need to humanize the Supreme Court and move the court across the state for arguments," Douglas said. "It can be done. Why not hold arguments in Huntington, Morgantown, Clarksburg and other cities?"

Douglas said he also thinks the Supreme Court should be required to do six public appearances each year at commencements and other community events.

"It shows that the justices are people like everyone else," Douglas said. "We also need to do media days each year to the public."

Douglas said media days would be open access to the court for everyone who wanted to could come to the capitol and see the chambers as well as meet the justices.

"With the proper security it can be done," Douglas said. "We need to reinstate the Supreme Court into everyday life."

Douglas is currently a family law judge in Kanawha County. Before that, he was a family lawyer in Charleston.

Douglas previously ran in the special election last month for former Supreme Court Justice Robin Jean Davis's seat. He received 47,221, or 9 percent, of the votes in his division. 

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Kanawha Circuit Court West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

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