top of page

WV CALA critical of two judges for campaign donations from trial attorneys

CHARLESTON – A conservative legal reform group is calling out the re-election campaigns of two longtime circuit judges for receiving a bulk of their contributions from personal injury attorneys.

West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse issued a press release April 3 criticizing Judge Ronald Wilson in the First Circuit Court that includes the state’s Northern Panhandle as Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.

In the release, WV CALA notes Wilson’s campaign finance report shows he has received $150,575 during this re-election campaign, saying much of it has come from personal injury lawyers.

“Judge Wilson was originally appointed by Democrat Governor Jay Rockefeller,” WV CALA’s Pepper Peana says in the release. “Judge Ron Wilson is 83 years old and would be 92 years old at the end of this term, if re-elected.”

One defense attorney explained why he’s supporting Wilson’s re-election campaign. “I’ve known Judge Wilson for more than 30 years, and he’s always been a fair and thoughtful judge in my cases,” Marc Williams, managing partner of Nelson Mullins’ Huntington office, told The West Virginia Record. “That’s why I’m supporting him in this election.

“I know that as a judge he’s prohibited from knowing the identity of his contributors, but I’ve seen the list and Judge Wilson has support from lawyers of all types, whether their practice is civil or criminal, plaintiffs’ personal injury or defense lawyers like me. We support good judges because they are critical to our justice system.”

WV CALA also references a press release from Bailey’s campaign that said a January campaign event in Charleston raised “north of $150,000.”

“While she has not filed a campaign finance report with the actual details, the host committee for her fundraiser was mostly made up of personal injury lawyers,” Peana says. “Judge Jennifer Bailey was appointed by Democrat Governor Bob Wise and has never had an opponent until this election cycle. Jennifer Bailey is 68 years old and would be 77 years old at the end of her term, if re-elected.”

Also, WV CALA notes a new political action committee called Mountain State Safety Action spent more than $215,000 with WOWK-TV and WCHS-TV for ads supporting Bailey. WV CALA says the PAC “a newly formed out-of-state organization led by liberals from San Antonio.”

“It is no surprise that the greedy personal injury lawyers who make millions of dollars in the courtrooms of Judge Wilson and Judge Bailey are giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to their campaigns to keep them on the bench,” Peana said. “For years, West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse has highlighted the troubling practice of personal injury lawyers buying judicial elections in West Virginia to keep liberal judges on the bench.

“While much progress has been made to improve the West Virginia State Supreme Court, many of the circuit courts in West Virginia are still controlled by longtime Democrats who receive almost all their campaign contributions from personal injury lawyers.”

Wilson is being challenged by Brooke County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Barki and Wheeling attorney Dean Elliott Williams. Bailey is being challenged by Ashley Deem, a deputy clerk for the West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals. The elections for the non-partisan races will be decided in the May 14 primary.

Representatives for Bailey’s campaigns did not return messages seeking comment, nor did anyone affiliated with Mountain State Safety Action.


Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
bottom of page