Beth Walker ’87 will be chief justice on the West Vir­ginia Supreme Court in January. Beth Walker | Courtesy

Beth Walker ’87 took office as a justice of the West Vir­ginia Supreme Court in January 2017 — and two years later, in January 2019, she’ll become its chief justice.

“It is such a huge honor to be selected by my fellow jus­tices,” Walker told The Col­legian. “It’s a really important lead­ership position in our court, and I’m incredibly honored.”

The court’s five jus­tices unan­i­mously voted Walker into the chief justice position late last month. The chief justice holds office for a year, and her duties include over­seeing other levels of court within the state, ruling on recusal motions in the court, and pre­siding over oral argu­ments, Walker said.

West Vir­ginia Supreme Court Justice Evan Jenkins, who’s known Walker for nearly 20 years, said Walker will be an asset to the court.

“Beth is moti­vated by her respect for the law, devotion to the Con­sti­tution and love for the people of West Vir­ginia,” Jenkins said in an email. “Soon to be ‘Chief Justice Walker’ is a strong leader with a rep­u­tation of hard work and deep devotion to fair and equal access for all. She is viewed by her col­leagues on the bench and those who appear before her in court as being a person of honesty and integrity.”

Walker’s election fol­lowed turmoil in the West Vir­ginia Supreme Court: Earlier this year, the state leg­is­lature voted to impeach all five jus­tices for lavish spending of state funds.

Walker said she intends to address these con­cerns in her new lead­ership role.

“In the past several months we’ve had some con­tro­versies about the supreme court, and so my goal is to help restore the public’s con­fi­dence in our supreme court,” Walker said. “I’m par­tic­u­larly focused on trans­parency and account­ability and working closely with the leg­is­lature on bud­getary issues.”

In Tuesday’s election, a ballot measure passed amending the state con­sti­tution so that the leg­is­lature will be in charge of the state judiciary’s budget, rather than the judi­ciary itself.

“This amendment will require us to present a budget and the leg­is­lature will have the final call,” Walker said. “So it’s going to be really important to establish trust and coop­er­ation with the leg­is­lature, espe­cially on budget issues, so that we can be respon­sible and so that tax­payers can be assured that we are han­dling their money appro­pri­ately.”

At Hillsdale, Walker was “a very good student, very serious about her work and about serving the college,” said Pro­fessor of History Tom Conner, who had Walker in a few of his classes and knew her as a student worker in the admis­sions office while he was director of admis­sions.

Walker was a member of the Chi Omega sorority and senior class pres­ident during her time at Hillsdale. She also helped start the student ambas­sador program and worked for The Col­legian.

Walker was per­sonable and hard­working as well, Conner said, and has “fun­da­mental integrity.”

“I’m thrilled,” he said of her new advancement.

  • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

    “Walker’s election fol­lowed turmoil in the West Vir­ginia Supreme Court: Earlier this year, the state leg­is­lature voted to impeach all five jus­tices for lavish spending of state funds.”

    It seems our gov­ernment at all levels is dealing with a sys­temic cor­ruption problem. Even our Judicial branch, which should have the most respect for laws and con­ven­tions, suffers from this issue. We need good people to clean out the gov­ernment and restore cred­i­bility in tar­nished insti­tu­tions.

    A good step would be for Pres­ident Trump to nom­inate a new Attorney General of impec­cable cre­den­tials and respect for the law, to clean out the corrupt minions in the DOJ, FBI and CIA. The Obama Admin­is­tration nom­i­nated hor­rible, par­tisan lead­ership in those orga­ni­za­tions-no doubt due to the law-breaking and corrupt AG’s-Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder. As the Chinese say, ‘The fish rots from the head on down.’.