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SharePrint William T. Brotherton Jr.


Attorney William T. Brotherton Jr. (April 17, 1926-April 6, 1997) became the top official of two branches of state government—president of the state Senate and chief justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Born to Charleston grocer William T. Brotherton and Kathryn Slack Brotherton, Brotherton received his undergraduate and law degrees from Washington and Lee University in Virginia. He was an assistant prosecuting attorney in Kanawha County for two years before serving in the House of Delegates from 1953 through 1965. His father had also served in the House, three consecutive terms beginning in 1935.

Brotherton was elected to the state Senate in 1964 and served until he was defeated in the 1980 Democratic primary election by Bob Wise, later congressman and governor. Brotherton chaired the judiciary committee of the House (1958–64) and Senate (1968–72) and was appointed to the rare dual role of judiciary chair and majority leader of both the House (1960–64) and Senate (1970–72). He began the 1973 legislative session in the first of four consecutive two-year terms as president of the Senate.

Brotherton defeated incumbent Supreme Court Justice Sam Harshbarger in the 1984 Democratic primary and went on to serve the state’s highest court until he retired from the bench in 1995 following a massive heart attack. He was chief justice of the court in 1989 and 1994.

This Article was written by Karl C. Lilly III

Last Revised on October 17, 2023


West Virginia Legislature. Senate Journal. , April 8, 1997.

Cite This Article

Lilly III, Karl C. "William T. Brotherton Jr.." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 17 October 2023. Web. 14 April 2024.


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