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Justice McGraw to speak to toughest critics today

August 27, 2003

Give Justice Warren McGraw credit for being willing to face his detractors. Despite an effort by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce to work for his defeat, McGraw will speak to the group today at their annual three-day business summit.

The summit, held this year at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, will discuss the chamber's annual "Court Watch" report on Thursday. Released this week, the report was done by 25 attorneys from 15 law firms who analyzed rulings from the state's highest court in the fall 2002 and the spring 2003 term.

Their findings? According to Steve Roberts, the chamber's president, the high court usually accepts appeals lodged by workers' compensation claimants - and rules against employers in 90 percent of the cases.

Robert said that the court's ruling are out of balance and have an adverse effect on efforts to bring more good-paying jobs to the state.

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The legislature attempted to create a special court to handle workers' comp appeals during this past session, but caved in after opposition from the high court. In response, the West Virginia chamber is joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's effort to knock McGraw off the bench in the 2004 elections.

McGraw is in one of 10 judicial races the U.S. Chamber will get involved in this year, according to the July 21 edition of Forbes Magazine, which reports that since 2000, the campaign has won 21 of 24 targeted races since 2000.

The Forbes article says that during a five-year stretch, McGraw voted with the court majority in upholding workers' compensation appeals 88 percent of the time.

Forbes also said the chamber was upset by a 1999 case in which McGraw ruled that workers could sue their employers if they feared a future accident - a ruling which has come to be known as the "no proof-no problem" rule.

Will Justice McGraw answer his critics today? We hope so and we await reports of his speech with great interest.

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