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HD Media is running submitted questionnaires from candidates in the 2020 elections.

Read more responses from candidates by clicking on the links at right.

We are working with all candidates in contested races to get their questionnaires included on our website. (If a candidate has no opposition in the primary election, then they will receive a questionnaire after the primary ends.)

If a candidate is having trouble sending in a questionnaire, please click on an existing profile in your race. Send the same information, your numbered answers and your photo in an email to acopley@HDMediaLLC.com. You will receive a confirmation email back within two business days.

NAME: William R. “Bill” Wooton

CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Division 2

PARTY: Nonpartisan race

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.WootonForJustice.com

HOME CITY: Beckley

HOME COUNTY: Raleigh

AGE: 75

EDUCATION: Marshall University; WVU College of Law; Woodrow Wilson High School, Marshall University (B.B.A.), Ohio University, West Virginia University College of Law.

CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Attorney

OTHER WORK HISTORY: Law clerk to the Honorable John A. Field, Jr., Judge, US Circuit Court of Appeals; Assistant Attorney General, retired National Guard Colonel, worked as a prosecuting attorney, served as Majority leader of the House of Delegates, and was the long-time Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Beckley Rotary Club; Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce; Beckley Little League (coach).

ENDORSEMENTS: WV Deputy Sheriff’s Association

FAMILY: wife, Shir; three sons, Rob, Rich, Russ; and five grandchildren, Bryce, Abby, Mya, Katelyn and Robert.

PERSONAL STATEMENT: I am a retired National Guard Colonel, worked as a prosecuting attorney, served as Majority leader of the House of Delegates, and was the long-time Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And I have been engaged in the private practice of law in Beckley for many years. I am running for office to continue my public service, and because my experience makes me uniquely qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice. The goal I hope to accomplish is to provide fair and equitable adjudication of all issues that come before the court, free from any suggestion of bias or favoritism.

Questions from the West Virginia League of Women Voters:

1. What changes would you like to see to the state’s court system?

The existing structure of our state judicial system is adequate for the needs of West Virginia. I believe I can improve the administration of justice while serving in that system. I don’t think we need radical change to our existing system, and don’t believe we need an intermediate appellate court. However, that is a legislative decision permitted by our constitution.

2. How would you prioritize budget allocations for the court system (e.g., family court, drug court)?

The judicial budget has limited dollars available for discretionary spending; 84% goes for personnel expenses. Notwithstanding the current coronavirus pandemic, our opioid crisis persists and must be addressed. Responsibility for addressing this crisis rests primarily with other branches of government, but even with its budgetary limitations the judicial branch can help by prioritizing Drug Courts, Veteran’s Courts and Truancy Courts.

Additional questions from The Herald-Dispatch:

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?

Regardless of the election format, I don’t think partisanship plays a part in the election of prosecutors. The better informed the electorate, the better democracy functions. Voters will be better informed with two elections. If no candidate received 50% of the vote in a non-partisan election in May, a mandated run-off in November for the two high vote-getters would enhance the democratic process.

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?

I agree with the unanimous ruling of the five temporary justices that the drafted Articles impeaching Justice Workman unconstitutionally violated the separation of powers provision of our constitution. I also agree with the two justices dissenting in part, who held: “the Legislature has absolute authority to impeach a judicial officer,” and that the Court has no business reviewing legislative procedures.

5. Do you believe West Virginia needs an intermediate court system to operate between the circuit courts and the Supreme Court?

No. It would not be prudent to saddle the taxpayers with an expensive additional level of the judiciary, given the current level of economic and judicial activity in the state. In 2011 the Supreme Court adopted rules guaranteeing every litigant the right to appeal. Since that rule became effective the Supreme Court has been busy, but the workload is manageable.

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