Menis Ketchum

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Menis Ketchum
Court Information:
Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
Title:   Justice
Salary:  $136,000
Active:   2008-2020
Personal History
Born:   1943
Party:   Democratic
Undergraduate:   Ohio University, 1964
Law School:   West Virginia University, 1967

Menis Ketchum is a justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court. He was elected to this position on November 4, 2008 and his term ends in 2020.[1]


Ketchum graduated from Ohio University in 1964. He then received his J.D. from West Virginia University in 1967.[2]


Upon graduation, Ketchum started working at Greene, Ketchum & Baker. He spent more than 40 years at the firm, eventually becoming the senior partner.[1]

Judicial philosophy

"My judicial philosophy is really quite simple," said Ketchum, in the West Virginia Record. "I believe it is the function of judges to even-handedly apply the law rather than to make the law. If I'm fortunate enough to be elected, I want to be known as a fair-minded Justice who puts the law before politics or ideology. I will do my best to see that our citizens and corporations receive equal treatment before the court and that criminals - especially violent ones - receive the punishment they deserve. I want to be a fair judge to all of the people."[3][4]



In a three-way race for two seats, Ketchum received the most votes. He won his seat by earning 34.8% of the vote.

Candidate IncumbentSeatPartyPrimary %Election %
Menis Ketchum ApprovedA NoMaynard SeatDemocratic27%34.8%
Margaret Workman ApprovedA NoMaynard SeatDemocratic35.9%32.9%
Elizabeth Walker NoMaynard SeatRepublican100%32.2%
Elliott E. Maynard YesMaynard SeatDemocratic19.4%
Robert Bastress NoMaynard SeatDemocratic17.6%


Pledge to serve one term

During the 2008 campaign, Ketchum pledged to only serve one term on the court, stating:

I pledge to only run for one term so that I don't have to worry about a decision that the business community or labor may not like and worry about being re-elected. I just want to go up there and work and not worry about how my decisions would effect my re-electability.[6] [4]

Campaign contributions

For information about Ketchum's campaign contributions, see: Follow the Money: Menis Ketchum.

Interview with Bluefield Telegraph

On May 5, 2008, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph Editorial Board hosted a question and answer panel session with each West Virginia Supreme Court candidate. Below are the questions, with Ketchum's responses.[7]

  • On judicial integrity
"You have to disassociate with the lawyers and the social scene and not go around making speeches."
  • On Workers' Compensation cases
"We need an intermediary court of appeals with three judges and two law clerks," Ketchum said, noting this system would cost about $853,000 a year. Ketchum said the Supreme Court cannot handle the comp caseload.
  • On priorities for judicial reform
Ketchum agreed that the biggest problem facing our courts is out-of-state lawsuits. He also said the state needs judicial redistricting — the redistricting of counties into different or combined circuits — for judicial economy. Ketchum also emphasized the need for more family court judges, and the importance of raising their pay to the level of circuit court judges.

All information from this section comes from Bluefield Daily Telegraph, "Supreme Court candidates state their cases," May 3, 2008 (dead link), last accessed February 20, 2014.

Awards and associations

  • 1989-2008: Recognized in "The Best Lawyers in America"
  • 2002-2008: Member, Board of Governors of Marshall University
  • Former member, American College of Trial Lawyers
  • Former member, American Board of Trial Advocates
  • Former Board Member, Public Defender Corporations for the Sixth and 24th Judicial Circuits
  • Former member, Huntington Urban Renewal Authority[1][8]

Notable cases

Malpractice recusal

After a wave of criticism, Ketchum decided to recuse himself from the case MacDonald v. City Hospital. The case focuses on the constitutionality of West Virginia's Medical Professional Liability Act, which limits non-economic medical damages to $500,000. Ketchum was very vocal of his support of the law during the 2008 Supreme Court campaign. Though the judge does not believe it mandatory that he recuse in this instance, he said, "I don't want our Court to be publicly maligned by those with a 'win-at-all-cost' mentality. I disqualify myself from the case."[9]

Political ideology

See also: Political ideology of State Supreme Court Justices

In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan ideology of state supreme court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 are more liberal. Ketchum received a Campaign finance score (CFscore) of -0.4, indicating a liberal ideological leaning. This is more liberal than the average CF score of -0.35 that justices received in West Virginia. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice, but an academic gauge of various factors.[10]

See also

External links


West VirginiaSupreme Court of Appeals of West VirginiaWest Virginia Circuit CourtsWest Virginia Family CourtsWest Virginia Magistrate CourtsWest Virginia Municipal CourtsUnited States District Court for the Northern District of West VirginiaUnited States District Court for the Southern District of West VirginiaUnited States bankruptcy court, Northern District of West VirginiaUnited States bankruptcy court, Southern District of West VirginiaUnited States Court of Appeals for the Fourth CircuitWest Virginia countiesWest Virginia judicial newsWest Virginia judicial electionsJudicial selection in West VirginiaWestVirginiaTemplate.jpg