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NAME: John A. Hutchison
CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia Supreme Court Division 3
PARTY: nonpartisan race
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.justicehutch.com
HOME CITY: Beckley
HOME COUNTY: Raleigh
EDUCATION: Davis and Elkins College, WVU Law School
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Justice, West Virginia Supreme Court
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Circuit Court Judge, Attorney, Special Education Teacher, Carpenter, Steelworker, College Assistant Basketball and baseball coach.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Moose, Rotary, Past Board of Directors Beckley/Raleigh County YMCA, WVSSAC Soccer and Baseball Official and WVIAC Registered Soccer Official.
ENDORSEMENTS: Huntington Chamber of Commerce, United Mine Workers, Beckley Firefighters, Charleston Firefighters, Morgantown Firefighters, WV Sheriff’s Association, WV Deputy Sheriff’s Association, WV Farm Bureau, AFL-CIO, WV Trucking Association, WV Oil Marketers & Grocers Association.
FAMILY: wife, Viki; children, Gabriella, Thaddeus; grandchildren, Theron and Smyth.
PERSONAL STATEMENT: I'm uniquely qualified to serve on the Supreme Court because my values have been shaped by my experiences growing up in West Virginia. My parents were working people who taught me that success comes through hard work and by treating others the way I'd like to be treated. To restore confidence in our Supreme Court, we must elect people who have the experience, temperament, and vision to serve fairly and impartially. As a Justice I will strictly abide by the Code of Judicial Conduct; operate transparently, and; work to ensure the court budget is spent responsibly and effectively.
1. What changes would you like to see to the state’s court system?
Courts should not make law but rather interpret legislative intent when disputes arise about the law. Expand drug courts to break the cycle of addiction and help keep people from re-offending and ending up back in jail. Additionally, the court should work with educators and law enforcement to keep our kids in the classroom and out of the courtroom.
2. How would you prioritize budget allocations for the court system (e.g., family court, drug court)?
I'm proud that during my first year on the Supreme Court we returned more than $10 million to the state treasury through technology and modernization. Special courts such as drug courts Family Treatment Courts, Military Service Members Courts and Truancy Courts need adequate funding because they dramatically lower recidivism rates thus saving taxpayers money and improving our communities.
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?
As with the change of judicial races to nonpartisan, arguments can be made for and against the election of prosecutors. A policy change of this type require changing current law. Policy-setting and lawmaking are the exclusive responsibility of the legislature. As a conservative, non-activist judge I don't feel it's appropriate to take a side on this issue.
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?
All judges should be held to the highest ethical standards, but since Rule 2.10 of the West Virginia code of judicial conduct requires that sitting judges refrain from taking positions or commenting on issues on which they may be required to rule, I must respectfully decline to express a position on this matter.
5. Do you believe West Virginia needs an intermediate court system to operate between the circuit courts and the Supreme Court?
It's the duty of the legislature to make laws, not the judiciary. As a conservative, non-activist judge I wouldn't presuppose to tell the legislature what policy they should or shouldn't make with regard to that obligation. If the legislature creates such a court I would work to ensure that it functions as intended and adheres to the highest ethical standards.