West Virginia Justice John Hutchison announces retirement plans

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice John Hutchison has announced at the end of the term on Dec. 31, 2024, not running for re-election.

Hutchison, who was appointed to the court in 2018 and then won election in 2020, wrote in a letter that he wants to give anyone else considering a run for the court adequate notice.

John Hutchison

“I believe that the Court and others need to know of my intentions so that you can plan appropriately,” Hutchison wrote.

“Obviously, I am aware of the Court’s desire to undertake a strategic planning process and you need to know who will be on the Court in the long-term. It is also important for anyone desiring to seek election to the court to be aware of my intentions so that those interested persons have an opportunity to plan and organize.”

Hutchison, who is from Beckley, served as a circuit judge from 1995 until 2018 when he was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Jim Justice. He took the seat that had been vacated by Allen Loughry, who resigned after being impeached by delegates and charged by federal prosecutors with multiple counts including mail fraud and wire fraud.

That was the period when the entire West Virginia Supreme Court was impeached, and the court had gained a reputation for dysfunction.

Justice, when appointing Hutchison, called him “one of the most conservative, respected jurists in the state of West Virginia.”

Members of the restructured court focused on fiscal responsibility for the judicial system as well as civil behavior toward one another.

“When I came to the Court in January, 2019, the judicial system was starting to come out of a very dark place,” Hutchison said in his letter. “In the last five years, the New Court has made amazing strides in reestablishing the integrity of the third branch of government.

“That could not have happened without the leadership provided by the five members of the Court but also it could not have happened without the dedication and hard work of the 1,500 employees who work for the Court.”

Hutchison won an election to serve out the remainder of Loughry’s term in 2020, defeating Lora Dyer, a circuit judge, and attorney William Schwartz. Hutchison served as the court’s chief justice from the beginning of 2022 to the beginning of 2023.

In his letter, Hutchison said he hopes to remain active, perhaps serving as a senior status judge or as a mediator.

“I make this decision reluctantly,” he wrote, “but the calls of my family (wife Viki, daughter Gabi, son Thad and my 3 1/2 grandsons) and local golf courses beckon.”