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This is one of a series of guest columns from candidates in contested races in the June 9 West Virginia Primary Election.

I am one of four candidates for justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in Division 2. I am the only Division 2 candidate who is a veteran, and am the only Division 2 candidate employed in the private, rather than the public, sector.

I was educated in the public schools of Raleigh County and am a graduate of Marshall University and WVU College of Law. My wife Shir (an accomplished artist) and I raised three sons in Beckley, and we have been blessed with five grandchildren. I am a member of the American Legion, Beckley Rotary Club, and Board of Directors of the Beckley–Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce. Shir and I worship at Joyful Life Baptist Church.

Service to my state and community has always been an important part of who I am. I am running to continue my public service, and because my experience makes me uniquely qualified to be a Supreme Court justice. I am a retired National Guard colonel, worked as a prosecuting attorney, served as majority leader of the House of Delegates, and was the longtime chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I will bring a wealth of professional experience to the Supreme Court — experience in virtually every aspect of the practice of law, experience that is more varied and broad-based than any other candidate. I have been engaged in the private practice of law for more than 40 years and have been involved in virtually every type of legal proceeding possible in West Virginia. The Supreme Court requires scholarship: I was editor-in-chief, WV Law Review; Order of the Coif; and graduated at the top of my class. I served as law clerk for the Honorable John A. Field, Jr., Judge, US Court of Appeals; am a former assistant attorney general, former prosecutor, and have extensive quasi-judicial experience as legislative judiciary chair.

Sadly, the recent history of profligate spending on the part of the Supreme Court has damaged the faith of the public in our court. As a justice, I will ensure that no component of the judicial system can ever again be suspected of wasting taxpayer dollars. I will insist that the court adopt complete transparency with regard to all spending, including detailed accounting for all travel expenditures, and for all expenditures related to office furnishings and equipment. Absolute transparency with regard to all judicial branch spending is absolutely essential to restore the public’s faith in our highest court.

I am proud of my legislative record of protecting our environment and water quality, but am even more proud that throughout my legislative service no one ever questioned my integrity. As a justice I will ensure that my personal conduct never gives rise to any question regarding my honesty and integrity, and I will never act in any way that reflects negatively on the State of West Virginia or the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Public policy decisions are made by the people of West Virginia through their elected representatives in the state legislature. The legislative branch has primary responsibility for crafting public policy into law, and the executive branch has responsibility for executing the law and implementing public policy decisions. As a member of our Supreme Court, I will honestly and fairly apply the law to all cases before the court, free from favor or bias toward any party. I believe a judge should not make law; instead a judge’s role is to ensure that the law and the constitution are correctly and fairly applied. Stated another way, I believe a judge’s role is primarily to call balls and strikes.

William R. “Bill” Wooton, of Beckley, is a candidate for justice, Supreme Court of Appeals, Division 2.

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