CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Elizabeth D. “Beth” Walker will become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia on January 1, 2019, the Court decided by acclamation in an Administrative Conference today.
The Chief Justice is the administrative leader of West Virginia’s judiciary, which includes not only the high court but also the circuit, family and magistrate courts. The Chief Justice presides over oral arguments and also oversees many of the administrative functions of the judiciary. For example, an important daily duty of the Chief Justice is to rule on motions to recuse judicial officers in lower courts and to assign replacement magistrates, family court judges, and circuit court judges who are unable to serve in a particular case due to a conflict of interest.
Justice Walker said, “I am honored by the trust placed in me by my fellow Justices and I thank Chief Justice Workman for her leadership in recent months. My commitment to greater transparency and accountability in the judicial branch is unwavering, and I am ready to work with the Legislature toward better oversight of the Court’s budget.” Chief Justice Workman said, “Justice Walker is a hard-worker and I think she will do an excellent job.”
Justice Tim Armstead said, “Justice Walker will do a tremendous job leading the Court during a period of historic importance to our judicial system. The Court is already working each day to ensure fiscal responsibility and restore the public’s confidence in our Court, and I know Justice Walker will continue this progress as our state’s Chief Justice.”
Justice Evan Jenkins said, “While I’m new to the Court, we are working together each and every day to help restore the public’s trust and confidence in the important work we do and the decisions we make. Today’s unanimous decision by the whole court to have Justice Walker serve as Chief Justice in 2019 is another step in the right direction.”
Justice Walker was elected to the Supreme Court on May 10, 2016, becoming the first Justice elected in a non-partisan race. She took office on January 1, 2017. Justice Walker was raised in Huron, Ohio. She is a 1987 summa cum laude graduate of Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan. She earned her law degree in 1990 from The Ohio State University, where she was Articles Editor for The Ohio State Law Journal. Immediately after graduating from law school, Justice Walker moved to West Virginia and joined the law firm of Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love (now Bowles Rice) in Charleston. During her twenty–two years at Bowles Rice, she concentrated her statewide practice on labor and employment law and mediation. Justice Walker served on the firm’s Executive Committee and in several other leadership roles. In 2012, Justice Walker became Associate General Counsel for the West Virginia United Health System (also known as West Virginia University Medicine) in Morgantown. In that role, she advised WVU Medicine’s hospitals and other affiliates regarding labor and employment matters until she resigned in 2016 to take office.
A lifelong Girl Scout, Justice Walker is former chair and current member of the board of directors of Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council. She has been an active community volunteer and served as chair of the boards of Leadership West Virginia and Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center. Justice Walker is married to Mike Walker and stepmother to Jennifer. She lives in Charleston