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Tabit to Try Again For Supreme Court

WHEELING — Kanawha County Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit is planning another run for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in 2020.

Tabit ran last year for an unexpired term on the court, but finished second to former Speaker of the House Tim Armstead in a 10-candidate race. Armstead received 26 percent of the vote; and Tabit, 22 percent. Other candidates received 13 percent or less.

“I’m really encouraged by the support in my first state-wide campaign,” Tabit said.

“It was energizing, and the the smartest thing for me to do — because I am committed to the state — is to continue building on what we did…

“I was very pleased. It wasn’t a race. It was a sprint, and we did everything in three months. This time, we will have the luxury of more time and will get to people we weren’t able to reach last year.”

The seats on the court belonging to Armstead and Justice Margaret Workman are up for re-election in 2020, and represent full 12-year terms on the court.

A third seat — currently occupied by Justice John Hutchison — also will be on the ballot. It carries an unexpired four-year term.

Candidates filing in January to run for the court in the 2020 primary election will indicate then if they wish to run for one of the two full-terms, or for the unexpired term.

Supreme Court races in West Virginia are now non-partisan, and the justices will be elected in the primary election.

There are five justices on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

Charges pertaining to out of control spending by the court led to former justices Robin Davis and Menis Ketchum stepping down last year.

Former Chief Justice Allen Loughry was convicted of seven counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of witness tampering and two counts of lying to the FBI. He is currently serving a 24-month sentence in federal prison at FCI Williamsburg in South Carolina.

“If there was any silver lining to all that happened, it heightened people’s awareness of Supreme Court races,” Tabit said. “People ask me all the time why I want to run. It may be cliche, but I’m a life-long West Virginian, and I want to make it a better place. This is the best way for me to do it.

“We’re now electing three seats — a majority of the court. We want to elect people who have the integrity, character and fairness to lead the judiciary into the next generation. I have the experience and enthusiasm to do it.”

A Charleston native, Tabit was appointed Kanawha County circuit judge by former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in 2014. She was re-elected in 2016.

Tabit received her undergraduate degree from Marshall University and her law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law. She has worked in law for 32 years.

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