Spike Maynard recuses from Harman-Massey case, Benjamin refuses to do so

Maintaining that he has "no doubt in his own mind" that he could be objective, Chief Justice Spike Maynard recused himself Friday from a headline-grabbing case.

Fellow Justice Brent Benjamin, however, refused to do so.

"It is not enough to do Justice -- Justice also must be satisfy the appearance of Justice," Maynard said in a memo Friday morning to Supreme Court Clerk Rory Perry. "I have decided to voluntarily recuse myself from this case. I will recuse myself despite the fact that I have no doubt in my own mind and firmly believe I have been and would be fair and impartial in this case. I know that of a certainty."

On Thursday, Harman Mining Corp. filed a motion asking Maynard and Benjamin to recuse themselves from the case because of his friendship with Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. That follows a motion already filed by Harman President Hugh Caperton.

Later Friday, Benjamin filed his memo.

"It is observed that movants present no new information, objective or otherwise, to support their contentions," Benjamin said, referring to a 2006 request from Harman for his recusal. "It is furthermore noted that this motion was not filed until after the decision contrary to the positions of the movants in this matter was rendered and after the undersigned filed his concurring opinion to that majority opinion."

The mere appearance of impropriety, regardless of whether it is supported by fact, can compromise the public confidence in the courts. For that reason -- and that reason alone -- I will recuse myself from this case.”

— West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Spike Maynard