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Darrell Vivian McGraw Jr, born November 8, 1936, in Wyoming County, served one term on the Supreme Court of Appeals and five terms as attorney general. He was educated in local public schools and at Pineville High School and at Berea Academy, Kentucky, with bachelor’s, master’s, and legal degrees from West Virginia University. McGraw served in the U.S. Army from age 17 to 20. He was student body president at WVU in 1959.

After law school, McGraw was admitted to the state bar, serving in private practice and as counsel to Governor Hulett Smith. He served also as counsel to the legislature. A Democrat, he was elected to the Supreme Court in 1976, one of three liberals elected to the court that year. He quickly established himself as an outspoken jurist and was a lightning rod for conservative critics. Landmark actions of the court during his time included the 1978 Mandolidis decision, which significantly expanded the rights of injured workers to sue and was opposed by many employers.

McGraw, who served as Supreme Court chief justice in 1987, failed in 1988 to gain reelection to a second term on the court. He was elected state attorney general in 1992 and reelected in 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008. In 2012, he was defeated by Republican Patrick Morrisey.

As attorney general, McGraw emphasized consumer protection. In 2000, he won an important settlement against Ohio direct mail operator Benjamin Suarez. Attorney General McGraw involved West Virginia in a multi-state suit against the tobacco industry. The 1997 settlement has brought in nearly $1.5 billion for the state, as of 2022.

Darrell McGraw comes from a politically active family. Warren R. McGraw, previously state Senate president, in 2004 was a justice of the Supreme Court and a circuit judge in 2010. Warren R. McGraw II, Warren’s son and Darrell’s nephew, served in the House of Delegates from 1993 to 2002. Darrell McGraw’s wife, educator Jorea Marple, was the first female superintendent of schools.

Last Revised on July 21, 2023

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e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia "Darrell McGraw." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 21 July 2023. Web. 27 May 2024.


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