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WV Supreme Court administrator Canterbury ousted


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After 11½ years, Steve Canterbury is out as state Supreme Court administrator.

Contacted Wednesday afternoon, Canterbury said he did not have time to discuss his abrupt termination, since he had been given a limited amount of time to clear out his office at the Capitol. Subsequent calls went to voicemail Wednesday.

 In a news release Wednesday, the court announced that former Nicholas Circuit Judge Gary Johnson will serve as interim administrator, effective immediately. The release, which quoted Chief Justice Allen Loughry, did not mention Canterbury.

Johnson lost a re-election bid in 2016, ending 23 years of service on the bench.

He was defeated by Summersville lawyer Stephen Callaghan, who has a hearing scheduled Tuesday before the Supreme Court to challenge a state Judicial Hearing Board recommendation that he be censured, reprimanded and suspended as a judge for two years for violations of judicial ethics.

Shortly before the May judicial election, Callaghan’s campaign mailed out fliers falsely alleging that Johnson had been at the White House partying with President Barack Obama while coal miners lost their jobs. The Hearing Board concluded that Callaghan had violated the Code of Judicial Ethics, which prohibits judicial candidates from knowingly making false or misleading statements.

During his tenure with the high court, Canterbury played an instrumental role in the passage and implementation of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s Justice Reinvestment Act, legislation promoting community corrections, drug courts and rehabilitation, and accelerated probation and parole for non-violent offenders as a way to reduce the state’s prison overcrowding problems.

Canterbury also oversaw an ongoing $15 million project for electronic filing and online access to circuit and magistrate court documents statewide.

He also supervised renovations of Supreme Court offices, including restoring the court chambers in the Capitol’s East Wing to architect Cass Gilbert’s original design.

As the court’s representative on the Capitol Building Commission, Canterbury was steadfast in maintaining the integrity of the buildings and grounds of the Capitol complex. Most notably, he led the fight in 2011 to remove 58 security concrete bollards that were installed on the Capitol grounds without commission approval at a cost of nearly $460,000.

Prior to becoming court administrator in June 2005, Canterbury served for eight years as executive director of the state Regional Jail Authority, where he oversaw more than $300 million of construction of regional jails and state prison facilities.

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