State ex rel. Haught v. Donnahoe

In State ex rel. Haught v. Donnahoe, 174 W. Va. 27, 321 S.E.2d 677 (1984), the Court was presented with the issue of a judicial candidate's eligibility for circuit court through a petition seeking a writ of mandamus. At issue was an interpretation of the language of article VIII, section 7, which requires that to be elected to circuit court judge, an individual must "have been admitted to practice law for at least five years prior to his election." W.Va. Const. art. VIII, 7. The specific issue presented was whether the five-year law practice requirement entailed that such practice had to have been performed within the confines of this state. The judicial candidate whose candidacy was being challenged had practiced law only in the State of California. 174 W. Va. at 29-30, 321 S.E.2d at 679-80. After first determining that an ambiguity was presented by the language at issue, this Court proceeded to analyze the reasons for requiring judicial candidates to have practiced before the respective bar of the state in which they sought office. "Recognizing that the regulation of the practice of law and the judiciary is traditionally and inherently intraterritorial," we concluded that there were valid reasons for requiring that the constitutionally-imposed period of law practice had to have been performed in this state. 174 W. Va. at 32-34, 321 S.E.2d at 682-84.