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Mark Adkins Wins Political Appointment Case Before WV Supreme Court
In a 3-1 opinion issued Friday, January 22, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia accepted arguments presented by Bowles Rice attorney J. Mark Adkins in a well-publicized case involving a legislative vacancy that determined the current balance of power in the State Senate.
The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia ruled that a Republican must fill the Ninth Senatorial District seat vacated in early January by Senator Daniel Hall. The seat represents Wyoming and Raleigh counties and part of McDowell County. Hall was elected as a Democrat in 2012 and switched parties in 2014 after the General Election left the West Virginia Senate deadlocked at 17-17.
Adkins, representing the Republican Executive Committee of the Ninth Senatorial District, told the Supreme Court during oral arguments on January 19 that the state statute on filling legislative vacancies was “clear and unambiguous” and should be filled by a person from the party “with which the person holding the office immediately preceding the vacancy was affiliated.”
“The mandate of the voters is protected because the voters elect a person, not a party,” Adkins continued. “The voters entrusted Senator Daniel Hall to make the best decisions on their behalf, and that includes switching parties.”
Shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision was announced, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin appointed Naomi “Sue” Cline to take Senator Hall’s seat in the Senate.
J. Mark Adkins is a partner in the Charleston office of Bowles Rice, where he focuses his practice on complex, high-risk litigation and trial work.