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Ex-Supreme Court candidate withdraws name

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Attorney Letitia "Tish" Chafin has withdrawn her name from consideration for the open circuit court seat in Mingo County.

Chafin submitted a letter Thursday to the state Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission asking her name be withdrawn from the candidate pool. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's spokeswoman Amy Shuler Goodwin confirmed the office received Chafin's letter.

Chafin, a private attorney with offices in Williamson and Charleston, was one of seven applicants for the seat recently vacated by Michael Thornsbury.

Her decision to withdraw comes a day after the Daily Mail reported her ties to several members of the commission.

"The citizens of Mingo County need and deserve a judge who is fair and honest and will work to restore the public's confidence in the judicial system," Chafin wrote in the letter, a copy of which was posted to wvmetronews.com

"I applied out of a concern that there would be few if any applicants that would meet those criteria."

After reviewing the candidates who have applied, Chafin wrote it appears there are enough capable applicants for the commission to consider.

The other applicants are Williamson attorney Robert Carlton, Mingo County public defense attorney Jonathan "Duke" Jewell, attorney and Williamson Municipal Judge Steven Knopp, Mingo County Chief Public Defender Teresa McCune, Mingo County assistant prosecutor and county commission attorney Glen Rutledge and Mingo Family Court Judge Miki Thompson.

 In the letter, Chafin said she prefers to remain focused on her family and practicing law.

Commission member and Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said he spoke with Chafin Thursday.

"Tish Chafin is a very smart, very capable attorney," Carper said. "She made a decision and she's quite comfortable about it.

"She would make an outstanding judge, and someday I hope she does seek office somewhere."

Carper was one of several commission members who either contributed to or played a role in Chafin's recent unsuccessful campaign for state Supreme Court. He served as her campaign committee chairman and contributed to her campaign.

Commission Chairwoman Deb Scudiere, a Morgantown attorney, contributed $100 to her campaign, according to campaign finance records. Records also show commission member Bert Ketchum, a Huntington attorney and son of Supreme Court Justice Menis Ketchum, contributed $1,000 to her campaign.

State AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue also serves on the commission. The political arm of the AFL-CIO endorsed Chafin in the Supreme Court race.

Scudiere, Carper and Perdue all said the connections would not affect their impartiality. Carper and Scudiere told the Daily Mail earlier this week links between commission members and applicants are common and frequently unavoidable.

Carper said he was not aware of any other candidates asking to be withdrawn from the pool.

The commission can submit between two and five names to the governor for consideration. Scudiere told the Daily Mail earlier this week the commission will interview candidates Monday.

She said she typically tries to submit names to the governor by the morning after candidates are interviewed.

Senior status judges John Cummings and Thomas McHugh are handling the circuit court caseload for now. Thornsbury resigned the position hours before pleading guilty to a federal charge.

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or david.boucher@dailymailwv.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.


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