CHARLESTON – Justice Tim Armstead will be Chief Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court in 2020.
At a recent administrative conference, Armstead was approved to become Chief Justice by his colleagues on the court. His term begins Jan. 1.
The justices also voted to return to the one-year rotation of Chief Justice. They also designated Justice Evan Jenkins to serve as Chief Justice in 2021. Jenkins will serve as Chief Justice in 2020 when Armstead is disqualified from a case.
“I am honored to have the trust of my fellow West Virginians to serve on their Supreme Court of Appeals and to have the confidence of my fellow Justices to serve as Chief Justice in 2020,” Armstead said. “This year has been a year of rebuilding and restoration for our court. Under the leadership of Chief Justice Beth Walker, our court has worked to build a stronger, more open and accessible court. I am excited to have this opportunity to build upon that effort in 2020 and will work hard to ensure our court system continues to earn the trust of the people of our state.
“Our judiciary is made up of many talented people who are dedicated to ensuring justice, following the law and upholding high standards of integrity. We owe it to the people of our state who have entrusted us with this responsibility to provide them a fair, efficient open and honest court system."
Armstead said the opioid crisis will be a focus of the court in the coming year.
“One of the greatest challenges facing West Virginia is the effect of the opioid crisis has had on our families," he said. "Our court system plays a key role in ensuring that every child in West Virginia has a safe and healthy home and a loving family who supports and nurtures them. In 2020, we will continue to make their future a priority for our court,” Armstead said.
Jenkins said the justices continue to try to rebound from the troubles of 2018 that plagued the court.
“Each and every day we continue to focus on rebuilding the public’s trust and confidence in our state’s highest court," Jenkins said. "Chief Justice (Beth) Walker’s leadership this year has brought much needed accountability and transparency to the work of the court.
"Our decision to return to a seniority based rotation is just another important step that demonstrates the excellent working relationship the justices share with one another and our commitment to the court’s important work. Justice Armstead will do an outstanding job as chief justice in 2020 and I look forward to working with him these next twelve months.”
“The new court has worked successfully as a team this year, and I know that cooperation and collegiality will continue,” she said. “I am grateful to my colleagues for the opportunity to serve as Chief Justice and am confident that our important work to safeguard the integrity of our judiciary will continue under Justice Armstead’s leadership.”
Armstead, the former speaker of the House of Delegates, was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Jim Justice to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Justice Menis Ketchum. He took office Sept. 25, 2018, and was elected Nov. 6, 2018, to retain the seat until the end of the term on Dec. 31, 2020.
Jenkins, a former U.S. Congressman, was appointed to the Supreme Court by Justice to fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Justice Robin Jean Davis on Aug. 25, 2018, and took the oath of office on Oct. 1, 2018. He was elected on Nov. 6, 2018, to retain the seat until the end of that term on December 31, 2024.