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Vacation photos doom W.Va. top judge in primary
Justice Photos NY11 5218131
This March 19, 2008 file photo shows candidates for the West Virginia Supreme Court including Justice Elliot "Spike" Maynard, center, Elizabeth Walker, left, and Margaret Workman at a West Virginia Bar Association event in Charleston, W.Va. Maynard finished third in a field of four candidates Tuesday, May 13, 2008, after photos had surfaced in January showing him vacationing in Europe with the chief executive of Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy Co., which had cases before the court. - photo by Associated Press
    CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s top judge will be out a job after a conflict-of-interest scandal involving an exotic vacation with a coal company boss derailed his bid for another term.
    Chief Justice Elliott ‘‘Spike’’ Maynard finished third in a field of four candidates in the state’s Democratic primary Tuesday, following an uproar that began in January when photos surfaced showing him vacationing in Europe with the chief executive of Richmond, Va.-based Massey Energy Co. The company had cases before the court.
    ‘‘The voters have spoken and it appears we’ve lost the race,’’ Maynard said. ‘‘I want to thank the people of West Virginia for allowing me the great privilege and honor of serving them as a judge and justice for nearly 28 years.’’
    The Democratic justice had raised the most money in a race where he was once considered a shoo-in. Maynard, 65, lost to former Justice Margaret Workman and Huntington lawyer Menis Ketchum. They will face Charleston lawyer Beth Walker, the only Republican to file, in the fall for the two open seats on the state’s highest court.
    The photos showed Maynard on a 2006 Monaco vacation with Massey chief executive Don Blankenship. At the time, the nation’s fourth-largest coal producer by revenue had cases either pending with or heading to the court on appeal.
    In one picture, the men are sitting side by side, smiling over empty glasses at a cafe along the Riviera as the Mediterranean sun sets behind them. In others, they are posing by the seaside.
    Both men have said they paid their own way on the trip. Blankenship has said the two have known each other about 30 years and socialize a few times a year, but that it was the first time he met up with Maynard on vacation.
    ‘‘The appearance is overwhelming,’’ said Bruce Green, director of the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham Law School. ‘‘The photos make the relationship obvious and undeniable.’’
    Maynard blamed the furor on political foes and said his friendship with Blankenship had not affected his impartiality on the court. He removed himself from pending Massey cases after the photos surfaced and later said he wouldn’t consider any future case involving Massey.

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