Welcome to this edition of the Richard Urban Show and we’re very happy to have with us today, May 27, Judge Lora Dyer and she’s running for the Supreme Court of Appeals in Division 3. So please introduce yourself. Tell us about yourself or family.
“Thank you, first of all, Richard. I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and your viewers and listeners there. I am Judge Laura Dyer. I am the current circuit judge here in the State of West Virginia, I am in one of the two largest circuits in our state, it’s the fifth circuit and that includes Jackson, Mason, Roane and Calhoun counties,” Dyer said.
Richard: What are the main reasons you’re running for the Supreme Court of Appeals? Why did you decide to run?
“I grew up in rural West Virginia. I was the first person in our family to actually go to college. When I grew up our house had wheels on it and so I knew early on that I really wanted to have an education and I was fortunate, blessed to have that opportunity,” Dyer responded.
“I went to Marshall University as my undergrad. And then I went to WVU Law School and got my legal degree. My first job was with the Supreme Court. I loved that job. I clerked for Justice Albright, and I think that’s where I first developed a love for the judiciary. Right after that experience, clerked for Judge Jim Stucky, he was one of the circuit judges in the thirteenth circuit,” Dyer said.
“From those first experiences legally, and having clerked for the judges and justices, I knew that I liked that type of work, that that it’s very diverse. The questions that come are different facets of the law, and I like that, I like the challenges of that. And so that sort of led me to, after a lengthy career in private practice and working for the government in public service to do what I do now, which is be a circuit judge. And that experience really opened my eyes to a lot of the trouble that children and families in West Virginia have. And my experiences both with the judiciary and with that, and the passion for it and knowing that I’m uniquely qualified; I feel very compelled to ask for this opportunity to help and serve my state,” Dyer added.
Richard: So how do you see the role of the judiciary like in improving child welfare? I guess there are many child welfare cases coming up to the Supreme Court level. How do you see your role in that, in improving child welfare?
”So that’s a great question, and it’s why I’m asking for the job. As a Circuit Judge you are in the trenches with these issues and you’re handling the people and the families as they come dealing with the laws that are in place, but also with the administrative rules that are in place and those come from the Supreme Court. Not only does the Supreme Court issue opinions relating to things coming up from the lower court. It is the administrative office for all the courts in the state of West Virginia. So thereby it takes a lot of administrative experience, which I have and a lot of communication with other branches of government.” Dyer said.
“It’s a unique place to use those skill sets to try to develop administrative role to help resources and communications with other branches of government. So that’s how I see the opportunity to help the children is definitely via the administrative function of the Supreme Court,” Dyer added.
Richard: Our non-profit deals with helping youth stay abstinent before marriage, and form stable families. I’m wondering around that kind of idea, do you think in the long run, that kind of approach could help? I think we’re seeing a lot of issues because of the family situation. What do you think about that? Is that like a viable approach in encouraging youth to stay abstinent before marriage?
“Well I, I think that that is a great question, and I can tell you how I utilize so far in the job that I have, those types of resources is what we’re going to have to do. Our state is unfortunately not one of the most wealthy or resourceful when it comes to the particular issues being what avenues that different people have to have access to resources” Dyer continued.
Richard: I was thinking more, that could be specific service a church could provide. Also, I was thinking more on the long-term picture, also. Along those lines, have you heard about, in some cities that have community marriage policies, it’s not, I think, something that’s mandated. But I know in some communities, like Kansas City, Kansas, they have churches get together and they say, “Okay if you want to be married, you’re going to have this counseling and things like that that you should go to.” So I think it’s something that churches do. Do you think that’s a good idea or something like that?
“I don’t know, I honestly don’t know about that particular situation as far as the court is concerned with those issues. I don’t know that I don’t really know how to answer that one,” Dyer answered.
Richard: I guess it’s not so much a court thing. It’s more like just a general policy on the issue.
“Are you talking about specific laws?” Dyer asked.
Richard: There was one organization. They’ve been working for, I think several decades; Marriage Savers. So they suggest that in different communities, churches, could adopt a community-marriage policy saying, that if you’d like to get married then you should go through this training or counseling before marriage. And they find that that helps increase the success of marriage.
“I can say this about that, Richard. The laws of the State of West Virginia – because circuit judges are authorized, under the law, to perform marriages. I’ve done a few marriages. And the wording under the law, that’s black and white law, says, it is not to be entered into unadvisedly. And so I always feel compelled to tell young couples, when they come and they ask you to do that, to tell them that particular passage, that it’s not to be done unadvisedly,” Dyer said.
Richard: Well, to change the topic a little, what do you feel with all that went on with the Supreme Court of Appeals in 2018, the impeachment proceeding? Do you think that maybe the legislature over-stepped or did they do right thing or do you have any opinion about the whole controversy that went on about the Supreme Court of Appeals?
”Well, I think that I came into the judiciary and I have already expressed how much I admired the justices and the judges that I personally worked for that weren’t involved in what happened. And I’ve always had this reverence for that branch of government. It’s interesting that our founding fathers in writing the constitution thought about this. Everybody has an innate from childhood an understanding of what fair and fairness are. That’s a very hard thing to define in an adult parameters and all the situations that people find themselves in. So what they did is they created an entire branch of government. That’s the purpose. The purpose of the judiciary is to sort of be the referee of these things where the law meets actual, living, breathing people. So having that reverence of the court and such. When I came in and all those things happened it was very upsetting obviously because the court has to have the trust of the people that we’re doing that job,” Dyer responded.
Richard: So along those lines about the constitution, how would you describe your judicial philosophy? Is it like a strict constructionist? You really stick to what the constitution says. Did you want to give any comments about your judicial philosophy?
“Sure, the Constitution. At the end of the day, if the piece of paper was writing on it, it is a legal document and it says certain things, and it doesn’t say other things. So from that same way is how I’ve always felt about the Constitution and it’s one of the most eloquently and is beautiful, written legal documents in the entire world. You know we the people. I get to see it in a way is very real and rare, the opportunity that a person gets to see the constitution in living form, and I do every time a jury, a grand jury or petit jury is seated when I looking at box, it’s we the people, as contemplated because they didn’t want the government to make certain decisions, they wanted the people to do that. And so that’s why that’s written in there,” Dyer said.
Richard: You can say how it feels appropriate Are you concerned about many governors have put a lot of restrictions out for the COVID-19 situation? With various kinds of edicts, and mandates, it seems like we’re in a very unprecedented situation. You know what I mean, right?
“I understand that. The thing about being a judge, we’re not allowed to specifically say how you would or would not rule in a given case,” Dyer said.
Richard: So you’re running against an incumbent and another candidate, how would you – for the voters – differentiate yourself, from your opponents in the upcoming June 9 election?
“Oh, well, the incumbent, was appointed, by the governor. This race is, we were talking about we the people, so this job being opened, to the people of West Virginia. Based on my unique qualifications and how much I care and know that I could make a serious difference, particularly for our children. That’s how I differentiate. The multitude of experiences that I’ve had lend themselves to doing a great job. And so I’m asking the people to have that opportunity to serve them,” Dyer answered.
Richard: So any other things you’d like to share with the audience about your candidacy that we have not already touched on?
“Well, absolutely, I would have loved to have gotten to travel a lot more, particularly in your area because it’s so beautiful. I liked being there. I got to go up there once before all this happened, so I certainly would have loved to have had the opportunity to come face-to-face and meet and talk to people. With everything that’s happened, that was not an opportunity. And I appreciate you, Richard, for allowing me this opportunity. And I would just like to let them know that I sincerely appreciate their consideration and time, in this application. I do have a website it’s judgedyerforsupremecourt.com. I can be found on Facebook, if they’re interested in learning more, or ask specific questions. I just appreciate their vote. We the people. I would like the people to pick me for this job,” Dyer concluded.
Richard: Well I appreciate you taking the time to come on the show today and we’ll put this out on video and podcast. And so I urge all the viewers to vote on June 9. We will be choosing the three Supreme Court of Appeals justices and that will be the only election for that, as well as, of course, choosing other positions.