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NAME: Jim Douglas
CANDIDATE FOR: West Virginia Supreme Court, Division 2
PARTY: Nonpartisan race
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: Douglas4Justice.com, Facebook site under the same name
HOME CITY: Charleston
HOME COUNTY: Kanawha
EDUCATION: BA, Morris Harvey College (UC); MA and JD, WVU.
CURRENT OFFICE OR OCCUPATION: Family Law Judge, 11th Circuit, 5th Division, Kanawha County.
OTHER WORK HISTORY: Prosecuting Attorney; 35 plus years divorce and Family Law Attorney, solo practitioner.
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS: Lions Club; WV Symphony Orchestra, Officer and Member, Board of Directors; Christ Church United Methodist.
FAMILY: significant other, Phyllis Veith; three children, Justin, Jarod and Jennifer; six grandchildren
PERSONAL STATEMENT: As you sit around the kitchen table drinking coffee in the morning, what is important to you is whether you will get to see that little grandchild in the middle of a divorce, or whether you, a single working mom, will get your child support, or whether you, divorced dad, can stop your ex from moving your kids out of state. I am the only Supreme Court candidate who has a substantial background in Family Law, as a parent, a grandparent, an attorney, and a Family Court Judge, and that’s what I bring to the table.... your kitchen table.
Questions from the West Virginia League of Women Voters:
1. What changes would you like to see to the state’s court system?
Priority should be given family law cases in the decision process of the WVSCA. Children, grandparents and parents should not have to wait. Also, pay homage to the predictability function of the law; i.e., be aware of and apply precedent. Finally, the Court should require annual domestic violence and LGBTQ sensitivity training for all judges.
2. How would you prioritize budget allocations for the court system (e.g., family court, drug court)?
Foster families should be fully funded through the WVSCA rather than through the Legislature. Guardians ad Litem should be restored adequate funding. Counseling for children of addicted parents should be initiated. Training for grandparent Guardians should be created. In all Family Court Circuits, daycare centers should be established and one mandatory Saturday court per month should be funded.
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?
Speaking as a judge elected under non-partisan procedures, the concept was laudable for the election of judges. Speaking as a former Prosecuting Attorney, prosecutors really are advocates for a position not judges. Prosecutorial discretion is not diluted by a prosecutor's voters' registration card. Charging decisions, irrespective of party affiliation, require convictions by juries or judges,
4. In 2018, four of the 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 did not agree with the ruling. True, there were some technical and procedural irregularities that should have been remedied, but the separation of powers process was working. It should not have been interrupted and it should have been left to the appellate courts to have overturned any impeachments, not an injunction by an unelected and specially appointed Supreme Court.
5. Do you believe West Virginia needs an intermediate court system to operate between the circuit courts and the Supreme Court?
No. The current case load does not justify it and would be another layer of expense to party litigants; however, family courts should be placed on parity with circuit courts; i.e., the same pay and benefits, just being circuit judges, family division. All family law matters should be in family court, and all appeals therefrom straight to the Supreme Court.