Seeing retired Cabell County Circuit Judge Dan O’Hanlon appointed to temporarily fill in for the late Kanawha County Judge Charles King will always get a positive reaction from those interested in justice.
Judge King passed away last week after years of service to Kanawha. He had earlier been the county’s prosecutor.
I view O’Hanlon as a model for what a judge should be. Bright and articulate, he is also fair and impartial. His reputation is impeccable. He thus makes a great fill-in until a permanent replacement is selected.
A sidelight to O’Hanlon’s appointment is that one of the cases he may get to conclude is the residency issue regarding Governor Jim Justice.
That’s where former Delegate Isaac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton) sued to force Justice to live in Charleston rather than Lewisburg.
The constitution is clear on the issue, saying that the Governor must live at the seat of government. That’s not Lewisburg. But Justice resides in Greenbrier County nonetheless.
The case has bounced from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and was back in King’s court when he passed away.
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Speaking of which, is it a conflict for Justice to eventually appoint King’s replacement while the residency case is pending?
Normally, a temporary fill-in is appointed (O’Hanlon in this case) and the Governor later appoints someone to serve until the next election. Is it okay for Justice to do that, under the circumstances?
I’ve always said conflict of interest is in the eyes of the beholder. Does Sponaugle have legal standing to challenge Justice appointing a replacement?
Since Justice has made it clear he does not want to live in Charleston, might a judge appointed by him have some built-in bias when ruling on this matter?
It seems odd for me to even raise a conflict issue about Justice, who has perhaps come under scrutiny more than any recent governor for ethical lapses. His Greenbrier Resort is generally at the center of those issues.
I realize it would be appropriate for Sponaugle to ask for a change of venue if the issue of ethics eventually becomes a point of contention.
On the other hand, perhaps O’Hanlon will serve long enough to settle the case. Then there would be no question that it’s an unbiased decision.
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It may not have been their finest hour.
President Donald Trump handled things poorly Wednesday in Washington, DC. And a newly-elected delegate used weak judgment in going into the capitol to protest.
Trump knew his rhetoric would incite the crowd of supporters gathered for the electoral college vote. He then waited much too long to calm them.
Delegate Derrick Evans (R-Wayne) actually spotlighted video of himself and fellow protesters on social media breaking through into the capitol.
House Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R-Clay) condemned Wednesday’s violence. He said it would be left to Evans’ constituents and colleagues to reprimand him.
I’m going to leave it that neither Trump nor Evans showed good judgment.
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The dismissal of Marshall Head Football Coach Doc Holliday brought allegations that Justice was behind the move because of animosity between the two.
Four years ago, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported on an alleged attempt by the Governor and former Coach Bobby Pruett to oust Holliday then.
Those who wanted to keep Holliday last week lambasted the Governor for carrying out his “personal agenda” in the coaching situation. He placed undue pressure on the Board of Governors to fire Holliday, they said.
Included among those who objected to Justice’s “interference” were likely many who have supported his government by executive decree since March 2020 but that’s just a guess.
For their part, the school president and athletic director said the decision to can Holliday was theirs alone.
Ron Gregory is a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch. He can be contacted at 304-533-5185 or email@example.com