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NAME: Lora A. Dyer
CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Division 3 Unexpired Term
BIOGRAPHY: I was the first in my family to attend college. I grew up the daughter of a coal miner in Southern West Virginia. I am proud that I learned the “can do” attitude from my Seabee Veteran dad. I graduated from Marshall University. I then studied environmental engineering in England, and ultimately earned my law degree at West Virginia University. Legal/Judicial Experience My first legal job was with the West Virginia Supreme Court for Justice Albright. I worked as a law clerk for Judge Stucky, and then as an assistant prosecutor before leaving for private practice. I also worked as general counsel for the West Virginia Auditor before being elected circuit judge in the Fifth Judicial Circuit, Jackson, Mason, Calhoun, and Roane.
Questions from the West Virginia League of Women Voters:
1. What changes would you like to see to the state’s court system?
Improve communication among the different branches of the judiciary. For example, the Supreme Court has limited interaction with the lower courts, especially the family and magistrate courts. That in particular needs to be revamped to have more interaction among all of the judiciary officials from the clerks’ offices to the Supreme Court. Any trainings should incorporate officials from all levels.
2. How would you prioritize budget allocations for the court system (e.g., family court, drug court)?
I am proud of the drug court that I started in Jackson County. Drug courts and alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders need reviewed for more funding. I would place more funding in early intervention programs for children in the abuse and neglect system. I would emphasize more training programs for all levels dealing with the abuse and neglect crisis.
Additional questions from The Herald-Dispatch:
3. One proposal that’s been floated recently is for elections of county prosecutors to be nonpartisan, just as elections for the state’s judges are. Do you think that is a good step? Why or why not?
The West Virginia Constitution created three separate and equal branches of government. Each branch possesses constitutional powers and further limits that branch to the powers enumerated in the Constitution. The question posed rests with the Legislative Branch, and therefore, I do not believe it is appropriate for the judicial branch to opine on the above question.
4. In 2018, four of the five Supreme Court justices in West Virginia were impeached. Three either retired or resigned, one was acquitted, and a fifth was not tried on the charges against her because a reconstituted temporary Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature had overstepped its bound in terms of the separation of powers. Do you agree with that ruling, or do you agree with some lawmakers who want to pass legislation to overturn that court ruling?
The judicial branch only “speaks” through its orders in an official concrete capacity, not hypothetically. This keeps the judiciary in check and balance as an equal, but separate branch. When it comes to application of the law, it is based on the specific facts presented in an actual case. The question relating to legislation falls under the province of the Legislative branch and therefore, it is not appropriate for the judiciary to opine on an area delegated to that branch.
5. Do you believe West Virginia needs an intermediate court system to operate between the circuit courts and the Supreme Court?
This question falls under the province of the Legislative branch. Therefore, I do not feel it is appropriate for a judicial officer to veer outside that judicial officer’s constitutional lane. Due to that limitation, I am not constitutionally permitted to opine on potential legislation.