CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Former state Supreme Court Justice Elliott “Spike” Maynard, 71, died Thursday night at Charleston Area Medical Center’s Memorial Hospital where he had been a patient since April 6. Maynard had been on a ventilator.
Maynard was elected to a 12-year term on the state Supreme Court as a Democrat in 1996 after serving as a circuit judge in Mingo County for more than 15 years. Before that he was a county prosecutor. In 2010, Maynard switched parties and unsuccessfully ran for Congress in the 3rd District as a Republican against current Congressman Nick Rahall.
West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas released a statement Thursday night calling Maynard “a brilliant legal mind and champion of the conservative cause.”
Lucas went on to say that Maynard would go down “as one of the most colorful individuals to ever enter public life in the Mountain State.” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Maynard was a devoted and talented lawyer and Supreme Court justice and “his love for the state was evident.”
Maynard’s one term on the Supreme Court came to a controversial end because of his friendship with former Massey Energy President and CEO Don Blankenship. He was criticized for ruling in favor of Massey on the appeal of a significant civil case. A 2006 trip to Monaco Maynard and Blankenship took together was at the center of the controversy. Maynard would eventually put out a statement saying the friendship did not impact his work on the High Court.
“Like most judges I don’t reward my friends or punish my enemies from the bench,” Maynard said at the time.
Maynard took himself off the Massey case when it was reconsidered by the court. He lost his reelection bid to the High Court in 2008. Two years later he took on Rahall.
GOP leader Lucas said Thursday night he was glad Maynard ended his life as a member of the Republican team.
“Spike’s counsel will live on for so many of us. In losing Spike, West Virginia lost a leader, a pioneer, a genius and a legend. Many of us lost a great friend today and we lift up his family and those closest to him in their time of need. May God bless you, Spike Maynard,” Lucas said.