CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Larry V. Starcher has died. He was 80.
Starcher, who served as a Monongalia County Circuit Judge before being elected to the state’s Supreme Court, died on Saturday, according to a statement from the court.
“Justice Starcher devoted his life to public service, as a circuit judge, Supreme Court justice, and law professor,” Chief Justice John Hutchison said Monday in the statement. “He was a mentor to many young lawyers, law students, and law clerks. His love for the law school was known to all. His monetary gifts were important, but his gift of teaching was the most important of all.”
He was first elected as a circuit judge in 1976 and served in that role for 20 years. As a judge, he presided over asbestos injury cases and established alternative learning centers for at-risk youths. He also pioneered the use of work release and community service in place of other sentencing options for nonviolent offenders, the Supreme Court statement said.
In 1996, he was elected to a 12-year term on the Supreme Court of Appeals and served as chief justice in 1999 and 2003.
He retired from the state’s Supreme Court in 2008, but served as an adjunct lecturer at the West Virginia University College of Law until 2020.
“Throughout his 32 years of service as a Judge or Supreme Court Justice, Larry Starcher’s idealism was a model for West Virginia lawyers and his fellow judges,” said Justice Bill Wooton. “Justice Starcher was a passionate advocate for everyone who needed a helping hand: children, the poor, victims of discrimination, the mentally ill and mentally challenged, those addicted to alcohol or drugs, and victims of physical, sexual and/or mental abuse. He was a strong believer that anyone facing criminal charges deserved a fair trial.”
Starcher was born in Calhoun County in 1942 and raised in Roane County, where he graduated from Spencer High School in 1960. He earned both his bachelor’s degree and his law degree from West Virginia University.
Starcher is survived by his wife and three children.