NAME: Jeffrey “Jeff” Kessler
DIVISION: Division 2
BIOGRAPHY: Jeffrey Kessler was born on November 16, 1955 in Wheeling West Virginia. He is a graduate of Bishop Donahue High School (1974), West Liberty University (1977) with highest honors in Economics & Political Science, and WVU College of Law (1981). He resides in Glen Dale with his wife, Gretchen and has 5 children, ages 28, 25, 13, 10 and 4.
LEGAL/JUDICIAL EXPERIENCES: Been practicing Law on an uninterrupted basis for 37 years in all WV Courts. Served as a City Attorney for 15 years, Municipal Judge for 5 years, an Assistant Prosecutor for 17 years and has tried 1000’s of misdemeanor and hundreds of felony cases to conclusion. Has served as a Divorce Hearing Examiner, Mass Tort Discovery Commissioner, and State Senator
1. How would you make the judicial budgeting process more transparent?
Currently the Court has absolute control of its own budget without oversight. The budget of the Supreme Court will become more transparent upon expected passage in November of Constitutional Amendment No. 2 which will put the WV Court budget under the control of the Legislature; and thus subject to customary budgetary processes including open public hearings, competitive bidding etc.
2. Do you believe the current system of voluntary recusal is effective in avoiding real or perceived conflicts of interest or do we need a change in the system to ensure public confidence in the process? What changes would you propose?
To ensure fairness, the denial by a Justice to voluntarily remove him/herself from a pending action due to a potential conflict of interest should be subject to appeal. I suggest granting additional powers to the Judicial Investigation Commission which would be authorized to require such recusal if it finds that an actual or perceived conflict exists.