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Menis Ketchum
Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
In office
January 1, 2009 – July 27, 2018
Preceded bySpike Maynard
Succeeded byTim Armstead
Personal details
Born (1943-01-31) January 31, 1943 (age 77)
Wayne County, West Virginia, U.S.
Spouse(s)Judy Varnum
Alma materOhio University (BA)
West Virginia University College of Law (JD)

Menis E. Ketchum II (born January 31, 1943, in Wayne County, West Virginia) is an American politician who served as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. He was elected as a Democrat to a twelve-year term on the Court in November 2008 and served as Chief Justice in 2012 and was served a second term as Chief Justice in 2016. He announced his intent to resign (effective July 27, 2018) on July 11, 2018, with slightly less than 18 months left in his term.[1] On July 31, 2018, he pled guilty to a felony count of fraud related to his personal use of a state vehicle and gas fuel card.[2]


Ketchum was born and raised in Wayne County, West Virginia, the son of attorney Chad Ketchum (1911–98). A graduate of a West Virginia public school, Ketchum attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio from 1960-64. Upon returning to West Virginia, he enrolled at the West Virginia University College of Law in Morgantown. In 1967, he obtained his Juris Doctorate.


Ketchum returned to Huntington, West Virginia to practice law with his father in the law firm of Greene, Ketchum & Baker in 1967. He practiced law with Greene, Ketchum, Bailey & Tweel and was senior partner from 1980 until his election to the Supreme Court.

Ketchum was appointed to the Marshall University Board of Governors by then-Governor Bob Wise in 2002. He resigned on January 2, 2008, while serving as Vice-Chairman, to campaign for a seat on the Supreme Court of Appeals.


Ketchum in September 2008.
Ketchum in September 2008.

Four Democrats filed for two seats on the State Supreme Court for the 2008 elections. In addition to Ketchum, they were former Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Margaret Workman, the first woman to serve on the state's high court, WVU law professor and ballot access advocate Bob Bastress, and incumbent Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard. Ketchum and Workman defeated Justice Maynard and competed against Republican candidate Beth Walker in the 2008 general election. In the November 4, 2008, general election, Ketchum received 34.54% of the vote to 33.68% for Workman. Walker received 31.78% of the vote.

Ketchum was sworn in on the Supreme Court of Appeals on December 18, 2008 and officially took his seat on January 1, 2009.[3]

In 2016, Ketchum was named as the new vice president of the Conference of Chief Justices, an association of the top jurists of the states and territories.[4] In 2017, he published "Pattern Jury Instructions," which took him five years to compile. The purpose of the instructions is so that "trial lawyers and judges to have at their disposal legally correct instructions that are understandable to a lay jury."[5]

Resignation and criminal conviction

In 2018 WCHS-TV and other media began an inquiry into the court's spending. It was found that Ketchum used a state owned Buick for regular commuting purposes without reporting this as a fringe benefit on his income tax, used the Buick for several personal trips to Virginia and was paid slightly less than $1,700 in improper travel reimbursements. He then repaid the $1,700 and restated his taxes for the years in question.[1]

On July 11, 2018, he announced his intent to resign from the court effective July 27, 2018. On July 31, 2018, he entered a guilty plea in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in Charleston to a felony count of wire fraud. He was sentenced to three years probation and fined $20,000.[6]

On October 4, 2018, the Supreme Court of Appeals, due to Ketchum's criminal conviction, accepted the disciplinary recommendation of the state's Lawyer Disciplinary Board and officially annulled Ketchum's license to practice law in the state of West Virginia.[7]


Married to the former Judy Varnum since 1966, the couple has three children and six grandchildren. Their son, Bert, is also a partner in his father's law firm.


  1. ^ a b "WV MetroNews  – Justice Ketchum steps away from the Supreme Court".
  2. ^ {{cite web|url=
  3. ^ "Justice Menis Ketchum swearing-in scheduled",
  4. ^ Geske, Dawn (2016-09-01). "Ketchum named VP of national Conference of Chief Justices". West Virginia Record. Retrieved 2018-09-23.
  5. ^ Dickerson, Chris. "Pattern Jury Instructions get validation from federal judge". Retrieved 2018-09-23.
  6. ^ JOHN RABY, Associated Press (March 6, 2019). "Ex-W.Va. Supreme Court justice sentenced in corruption scandal".
  7. ^ WV Supreme Court formally annuls Ketchum's law license

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Elliot E. "Spike" Maynard
Justice for the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia
Succeeded by
Tim Armstead
Preceded by
Margaret Workman
Chief Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
Succeeded by
Allen Loughry
This page was last edited on 3 August 2020, at 17:35
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