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NAME: Kristina "Kris" Raynes
CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Division 2
BIOGRAPHY: I received a B.A., Criminal Justice, Marshall University, cum laude and J.D., University of Akron School of Law. I have been a state and federal prosecutor for 20 years. I am a presenter/faculty for National District Attorneys Association, presenter/faculty for ChildFirst (training forensic interviewers for children who are physically/sexually abused). I am currently endorsed by WV State GOP Party. RaynesforJustice.com.
Legal/Judicial Experience I started my career in the Summit County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Akron, OH. In 2006, I returned home to WV to become a Special Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of WV and came to the Putnam County Prosecutor’s Office in 2008. Licensed to practice WV, OH, Southern District of WV and Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
Questions from the West Virginia League of Women Voters:
1. What changes would you like to see to the state’s court system?
As a state and federal prosecutor for 20 years, it has been my job to hold people accountable for their actions. I believe I can bring that skill set to the WV Supreme Court. I will return accountability and transparency to the Court and to the citizens of WV and will raise the bar of professionalism among the litigants.
2. How would you prioritize budget allocations for the court system (e.g., family court, drug court)?
As an administrative oversight agent for the Court, our budget structure should reflect what is most needed in our state now. I would structure a significant budget for drug courts to discover the most effective treatment for our opioid crisis and also encourage funding for abuse and neglect cases in juvenile courts to address the foster parent shortage in WV.
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?
Running as nonpartisan for a judicial seat has been challenging. I am proud of my conservative values but as a candidate, I am limited in what I can discuss about my political background. I believe that county prosecutors would want the voters to know their ideology so voters may have a better idea of how they will serve in office.
4. In 2018, four of 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?
In State ex rel. Workman v. Carmichael, the Court ruled correctly according to the law at that time. It held the Judicial Reorganization Amendment gave the judiciary discretion to oversee its own budget. That puts too much power into the hands of the judiciary. The voters remedied that by passing the constitutional amendment for legislative oversight over the Court’s budget.
5. Do you believe West Virginia needs an intermediate court system to operate between the circuit courts and the Supreme Court?
Most of WV’s case law comes from syllabus points of cases decided on appeal. I can see the interest, especially in the business community, of legislators to create an intermediate appellate court. However, because it would be my role to only interpret the laws already enacted, I would leave that role to the legislature and the citizens of WV.