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Supreme Court Justice Margaret Lee Workman, born May 22, 1947, in Charleston, received a law degree from West Virginia University in 1974, then opened a private law practice. She worked as a law clerk for the 13th Judicial Circuit and was assistant majority counsel to the U.S. Senate Public Works Committee.

In 1981, Governor Jay Rockefeller appointed Workman to an unexpired term on Kanawha Circuit Court. She was elected to the remainder of that term in 1982, and to a full term two years later. In the election of November 1988, she simultaneously became the first woman on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and the first woman to be elected to statewide office in West Virginia.

Workman served as chief justice in 1993, 1997, 2011, 2015 and 2018. While serving on the Supreme Court, she established the task force on gender fairness in the courts, worked to establish model domestic violence programs, and formed the court-appointed special advocates for children program.

Throughout her judicial career, Workman has been an advocate for children’s rights. In 1993, she received the West Virginia Prosecuting Attorneys Association’s Excellence in Criminal Justice Award for her work on behalf of children. She has also received the Celebrate Women Award for Government and Public Service Award, the Susan B. Anthony Award, and the WVU College of Law Women’s Law Caucus Distinguished Women in the Law Award.

After resigning from the high court in August 1999, she opened a law practice in Charleston. In 2008 she was again elected to a 12-year term on the Supreme Court. During her tenure as chief justice in 2011, she focused on improving rehabilitation services for juveniles. In February 2018 the court again elected her as chief justice.

In August 2018, following controversy involving the lavish remodeling and redecorating of court facilities and the federal investigations of justices Allen Loughry and Menis Ketchum, the House of Delegates voted to approve 11 articles of impeachment against Workman and the other justices. Following the trial and censure of one justice, the Supreme Court responded to a petition by Workman by blocking further impeachment trials, ruling that the three articles filed against Workman violated the separation of powers doctrine. Workman remained in office.

Workman has three children. She retired from the court in 2020.

This Article was written by Kay Michael

Last Revised on January 14, 2021

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Cite This Article

Michael, Kay "Margaret Workman." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 14 January 2021. Web. 23 June 2024.


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