Elections, Government

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals-Division 2

Jim Douglas headshot
Jim Douglas

Jim Douglas

Age: 69

Residence:  Charleston

Education:  B.A., 1973, Morris Harvey College (now UC), double major in history and political science; M.A., 1975, WVU, in German history and literature (later named German studies); and J.D., 1977, WVU, where I served as president of the Student Bar Association.

Political and civic experience: Democrat Executive Committee, vice chair, Braxton County, 1993; Lions Club; board member and officer, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, 2010 to present; member, Usher and Administrative Council, Christ Church United Methodist, Charleston, 2015 to present; adjunct professor for Glenville State College and Fairmont State College.

Professional experience: Law clerk for the Honorable William M. Kidd, chief judge of the 14th Judicial Circuit, 1976; prosecuting attorney, 1985-88, Braxton County; Legal Services coordinator, RESA IV, 1988; 2017-present, Family Court judge, Kanawha County; member, West Virginia State Bar Board of Governors, twice; Client Protection Fund Committee, 2007-present; 20-plus years, family law CLE instructor; published author, ABA; argued over 40 cases to the West Virginia Supreme Court; tried cases in 44 of the 55 state counties.

Campaign statement: Sitting around the kitchen table drinking coffee in the morning, what is important to you is whether you will get to see that little grandchild or whether you, a single working mom, will get child support.  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.

Top priorities: It is my intention to restore practical experience to the supreme court.  There are justices there now who have never cross-examined a witness, never picked a jury and never argued a case in front of the court on which they now sit.  Family law needs a justice champion.  This court needs someone who will put the brakes on those justices with no family law background and who will say, “But what about the kids?”

  Kristina Raynes headshot
Kristina Raynes

Kristina “Kris” Raynes

Age: 45 

 Residence: Eleanor, Putnam County

Education:  1992 graduate, salutatorian, Buffalo High School; 1996, B.A., cum laude, criminal justice, Marshall University; 2000, J.D., University of Akron School of Law. 

Political and civic experience: I am a former vice chair of Putnam County Republican Executive Committee; former member of West Virginia State Republican Executive Committee; former president of Putnam County Republican Club; current member of Putnam County Republican Women; co-chairperson/board member of Dress for Success, River Cities; secretary/treasurer for the Putnam County School Employee Federal Credit Union; 2017 Putnam County Republican Woman of the Year; 2020 James H. Caruthers Award for Outstanding Putnam County Republican of the Year. 

Professional experience: I began at the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office in Ohio in 2000, where I tried dozens of felony trials and my first aggravated murder/death penalty trial before I was 30 years old. In 2006, I took a position as a special assistant United States Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. In 2008, I came to the Putnam County Prosecutor’s office where I focus on felonies, especially crimes against children. 

Campaign statement: As a state and federal prosecutor, I have been holding people accountable for their actions for over 20 years. I believe that I can transfer that skill set as a prosecutor over to the supreme court to create more transparency of the court to the public and to ensure accountability of the court to the citizens of West Virginia. 

Top priorities: As a supreme court justice, I believe my role would be to interpret the law, not to create the law. It is not my goal to be an activist judge with an agenda to legislate from the bench. I would like to assist the drug courts/treatment courts to ensure more success for defendants who are in recovery. I believe that will have a chain-reaction effect on the problem of abused and neglected children in West Virginia.

 Joanna  I. Tabit headshot
Joanna I. Tabit

 Joanna  I. Tabit

Age:  59    

Residence:  Charleston

Education:   Marshall University, B.B.A. in business management, magna cum laude, 1983; West Virginia University College of Law, 1986. 

Political and civic experience:  Currently a circuit judge in Kanawha County, I was appointed to the bench by Gov. Tomblin in 2014 and elected in 2016.  In 2018, I ran for justice of the supreme court in a fractured field in a compressed election cycle and finished a very close second to the eventual winner in my first statewide campaign.  Energized by your support, I am continuing my commitment to the people of this state by running again.

Professional experience:  With over five years as a circuit judge in the state’s largest and busiest county, I have the necessary experience to serve on the court.  Prior to taking the bench, I spent my entire professional life, 28 years, in the courtroom as a member attorney at Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, a deputy attorney general with the Office of the Attorney General in West Virginia, and as a personal law clerk to Justice Thomas McHugh.

Campaign statement:  I am a lifelong West Virginian and ran for public office to improve the lives of the people of our state. I will be a justice for all West Virginians and believe that it is critical to take politics out of our supreme court.

Now more than ever our court needs a proven, qualified judge with circuit court experience.  I have the experience, integrity and energy to lead the court in the next generation.

Top priorities: Our court system is experiencing unforeseen challenges stemming from the drug epidemic.   Continued funding for treatment courts, including adult and juvenile drug courts, veterans’ courts and family treatment courts, is essential to combat the crisis.  Further, our court should partner with local and state agencies and engage in multidisciplinary strategic planning to identify policies or practice changes to help children and youth who are often adversely affected by the plight of addiction.

William R. “Bill” Wooton headshot
William R. “Bill” Wooton

William R. “Bill” Wooton

Age: 75

Residence: Beckley, Raleigh County

Education:  Woodrow Wilson High School (Beckley); Marshall University; West Virginia University College of Law, editor-in-chief, West Virginia Law Review; Order of the Coif; graduated at the top of my class.

Political and civic experience:  West Virginia House of Delegates, 14 years, served as majority leader; West Virginia State Senate, 12 years, Judiciary chair for 10 years; member, West Virginia Law Institute; member, Access to Justice Commission;  board member, Camp Dawson Events Center; judge advocate, Post 32, American Legion; member, Board of Directors, Beckley–Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce; board member, Raleigh County Convention Center; board member, Raleigh County Community Action Association.

Professional experience:  I have been engaged in the private practice of law for more than 40 years.  I have been involved in virtually every type of legal proceeding possible in West Virginia and have a wealth of professional experience that is more varied and broad-based than any other candidate.   Also, I served as law clerk to a federal appellate judge, am a former assistant attorney general, former prosecutor and have extensive quasi-judicial experience as legislative Judiciary Chair.

Campaign statement:  Service to my state and community has always been an important part of who I am.  I am running to continue my public service and because my experience makes me uniquely qualified to be a supreme court justice.  I am a retired National Guard Colonel, worked as a prosecutor, served as House of Delegates Majority Leader, was long-time Senate Judiciary Committee Chair and I have a wealth of experience in the private practice of law. 

Top priorities: Recent events have damaged public confidence in our supreme court.  No component of the judicial system should ever again be suspected of wasting taxpayer dollars.  As a justice, I will insist that the court adopt complete transparency with regard to all spending, including detailed accounting of all expenditures related to travel, office furnishings and equipment.  Absolute transparency with regard to all judicial branch spending is essential to restore the public’s faith in our highest court.