Tomblin Speaks to Mountain State Lawyers

WHEELING – West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin visited Wheeling’s “Miracle Field,” and addressed a gathering of attorneys from throughout the state during stops in the city Thursday.

Tomblin congratulated Wheeling lawyer Jim Wright of the Steptoe & Johnson law firm, who was sworn in as the new president of the West Virginia State Bar Thursday night.

The annual meeting of the group at Oglebay Park’s Wilson Lodge concludes today.

Tomblin is faced with appointing someone to the 1st District judiciary vacancy created when Ohio County Circuit Court Judge Arthur Recht retired effective Jan. 31. The names given to him last week by the state Judicial Vacancy Advisory Committee are former U.S. Attorney Betsy Steinfeld-Jividen; federal public defender Brendan S. Leary; lawyer Thomas C. McCarthy Jr.; and two current Ohio County officeholders – Commissioner David Sims and Prosecutor Scott Smith.

“I have the names, and we will take the time needed to get it done,” Tomblin said. “They are all good candidates.”

Tomblin noted West Virginia has made strides in ridding itself of the “judicial hellhole” name given to it by the American Tort Reform Association for the past three years. He said the courts are changing some internal procedures, and that the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals now has new policies for deciding which cases it will review.

“There are a lot of positive things happening,” he said. “In the last year, I haven’t had any major company come and raise issues about our judicial system. The business climate is improving, and West Virginia is pointed in the direction of jobs. There is going to be prosperity in the state.”

At the Miracle Field site in Elm Grove, Tomblin shook hands and greeted Easter Seals children who will participate in sporting events at there. He told organizers of the Miracle League of the Ohio Valley they would be receiving a $5,000 Community Participation Program grant for the field.

Lori Untch, president and chief executive officer of the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center in Wheeling, said concrete would be poured next week at the field. After this, the concrete must set for 30 days, then a “pour and play” cushioned surface will be poured atop the concrete.