Elliott "Spike" Maynard, Former WV Supreme Court Justice, Dies
Elliott "Spike" Maynard, Former WV Supreme Court Justice, died Thursday. Photo Courtesy: votesmart.org.
A former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice has died.
According to CAMC Memorial Hospital in Charleston, WV, 71-year-old Elliott "Spike" Maynard died Thursday evening after being treated there since April 6.
In 1996 he was elected as a Democrat to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. He was a Circuit Court judge for more than 16 years in MingoCounty.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Davis said in a statement she was "devastated at the loss of one of the best friends I'll ever have." "His charm and wit, his grace and kindness, his wisdom and insight — life just won't be the same," Davis said.
Maynard switched parties in 2010 and announced he would run for the 3rd Congressional District House of Representatives seat held by Nick Rahall, the Democrat from Beckley. On November 2, 2010, Maynard was defeated in his election bid in the second-closest election in Rahall's political history.
“I am running for Congress to save coal jobs and jobs that depend on coal,” Maynard said a the news release at the time. “West Virginians deserve a congressman who will fight to end this war on coal instead of standing by idly as thousands of local jobs are threatened.”
“I didn’t leave the Democratic Party – the Democratic Party left me,” Maynard said in the news release. He said Washington liberals have declared war on the coal industry and threatened thousands of West Virginia jobs. “We should be creating jobs, not killing them," he said. "We should be producing energy, not reducing energy.”
In early 2008, photos were circulated that showed Maynard and Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship vacationing on the French Riviera. Maynard later disqualified himself from hearing appeals involving Massey. Maynard lost in his bid for re-election to the state Supreme Court in 2008. Four months to the day after photos emerged showing Supreme Court Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard on vacation in Europe with Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, Maynard lost his re-election bid in a four-way race for two seats on the Supreme Court of Appeals.
After the election results that year, Maynard said he wasn't going to dwell on what cost him the race. "I made up my mind not to analyze it," he said. "When two people are ahead of you, it doesn't matter." In a press release issued by his campaign, he thanked his supporters, friends and, especially, his family. He said he was honored to serve on the bench for 28 years, first as a circuit court judge in MingoCounty and later on the Supreme Court. Prior to becoming a judge, Maynard was a prosecutor. "I've been involved in public service for 34 or 35 years. That's a long time in public service," he said. "I'm satisfied."
Maynard joined the United States Air Force in 1961, and he was involved in a reconnaissance group during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was honorably discharged in 1966. Maynard's early career, from 1968 to 1970, were spent as managing director of the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce. He practiced law in Williamson from 1974 to 1981 and was elected Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney in 1976, then re-elected to the position in 1980. Then-Gov. Jay Rockefeller appointed him judge of the 30th Judicial Circuit in 1981 where he served until his 1996 election to the Supreme Court.
Maynard was involved with the Boy Scouts of America, was a member of the American Judges Association, the American Bar Association, the American Judicature Society, the West Virginia Bar Association, the National District Attorneys Association, Charleston Rotary Club and other fraternal organizations.
Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin issued a statement saying Maynard "loved the law; he loved West Virginia; and, with all his heart, he loved Mingo County."
"In many ways, Spike was larger than life," Benjamin said. "Yet the spike I got to know was a quiet, considerate and compassionate man; a man with a warm smile and a deep concern about protecting children and helping those victimized by crime. It was a pleasure serving with Justice Maynard. My heart goes out to his loved ones."
Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury simply said the entire staff would "all miss the sweetness of his voice."
Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman described Maynard in a statement as a "true gentleman."
"I was in law school with him, and later had the pleasure of serving with him on tSupremeeme Court of Appeals," Workman said. "He was smart, funny, charming and so easy to get along with. He loved to talk about art and opera and theater. ... When you sit next to someone every day, you learn a lot about them."
WV Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas released a statement on Maynard's death, describing him as "a true West Virginian, a brilliant legal mind and a champion of the conservative legal cause."
"From his time fighting crime as a prosecutor to his days steadying our Supreme Court, Spike held high the concept of justice and worked to pull this state up at every turn," Lucas said. "I got to know Spike as an election opponent in 2010 and quickly came to know him as a friend. As a proud son of MingoCounty, Spike embodied the role of a classic southern gentleman. Spike will go down in history as one of the most colorful and charming individuals ever to enter public life in the MountainState. Those who know Spike well can easily recall his good-hearted nature, gentility and quick wit. I can't imagine a single person who met Spike who will ever forget him. Several years ago, Spike took a political risk to join the Republican Party and quickly became part of our team. There is no doubt he paved the way for others to follow in his footsteps. In mourning his loss, I am proud that in his final years he was part of our political family. Spike's counsel will live on for so many of us. In losing Spike, West Virginia lost a leader, a pioneer, a genius and a legend. Many of us lost a great friend today and we lift up his family and those closest to him in their time of need."
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey also issued a statement about Maynard, saying he was saddened to hear of Maynard's death.
"He was a devoted and talented lawyer and Supreme Court justice, and his love for West Virginia and her people was evident,” Morrisey said.