Field of Lawyers in Race for Greenbrier County Judgeship

From today’s Register-Herald:

Senator is seeking judgeship in Greenbrier County

Mannix Porterfield – Register-Herald Reporter

CHARLESTON — Midway into his second Senate term, Jesse Guills decided Tuesday to gun for higher office, that of circuit judge in the 11th Circuit of Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties.

Elected initially in 2002 in the 10th District, the Republican senator won re-election two years ago and has two years remaining in this term.

“If I’m fortunate enough to win, I will have to give it up,” he reflected after the floor session.

“But they have been six good years. I think we’ve done a lot, certainly in the six years I have been here. I would regret that (leaving) to one degree, but on the other hand, my profession is practicing law. And it’s the ultimate goal of most practitioners of law to be able to serve on the bench.”

Guills filed for the Division I judgeship now held by Judge Joseph Pomponio, named last year to succeed Judge Frank Jolliffe, who retired.

The Division II position is held by Judge James Rowe.

“I believe my experience in practicing law and really the experience I’ve gained through the legislative process have enabled me to be a quality candidate for that position,” Guills said.

Pomponio is seeking a full term in the post, and a third candidate in the race is Steve Hunter, a practicing attorney in Lewisburg. Guills is the lone Republican candidate at this stage.

Guills has been an attorney since 1971, handling civil and criminal cases. He is a charter member of the West Virginia Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.

“I’ve done pretty much all areas of law, including juveniles,” he said.

In the Senate, he has served on the finance, education and health and human resources committees.

Outside the Legislature, he also has seen public duty by serving on the Greenbrier County Airport Authority, where he was chairman in 1998.

Guills earned a B.S. degree in business administration and his law degree at West Virginia University and is the father of two children, Amy and Patrick.

“I will miss the friendship and people that I’ve met down here,” he said of his Senate tenure, if he succeeds in winning the judgeship.

“I will miss voting and continuing to be involved in the politics of this state.”

Note: I still to this day can’t understand why we would want a judge to campaign for office as a partisan politician. Should there be a difference between a Republican and Democrat judge? I would hope not. But, people need to keep in mind that this is probably one of the most important races they will vote on. In West Virginia, we unfortunately have no intermediate appellate court. Thus, it is very, very, very important to get good decisions at the trial level. Furthermore, we need commitments from these candidates that they will uphold the constitutional rights of the people and that they will not be an appendage of the office of the Prosecuting Attorney. – John H. Bryan, West Virginia criminal defense attorney.

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