St. John’s University, New York 1978-1982 B.A. - Academic and Athletic Scholarships Big East medalist Student Athlete Award
Washington and Lee University School of Law 1985-1988 Juris Doctor Moot Court Board Regional Champion National Trial Competition
Owner Harvit & Schwartz L.L.C. 1997 - 2019 trial lawyer representing injured workers and families and supervising daily operations of the firm.
Community Activities, Awards and Honors
I’ve dedicated years to charity such as Covenant House and Habitat for Humanity I’ve also begun charities like Breath of Life to fight cancer I was avid runner and proud father of student athletes at Marshall University and Capital High School and began the Capital High School Cross Country Invitational that is still a top high school and middle school event in our state.
Tell voters why you believe you should be a West Virginia Supreme Court justice.
Our Court and State suffered a major image setback with the $32,000 couch debacle and everything that followed. I feel past Justices and politicians got us in a mess. I’m neither and as an award winning lawyer who ran a firm and paid taxes that they disrespected I feel we need a taxpayer among the robes. The robes clearly caused some past Justices to lose perspective and I will bring new perspective that is sorely needed. The taxpayer money belongs to the taxpayers and I will never forget that.
What qualities do you believe are most important in a Supreme Court justice? Explain how you believe you possess those qualities.
I’m politically unaffiliated as I think all judicial candidates should be for a nonpartisan position. It’s the only way parties before the Court won’t believe that Lady Justice peeks. My commitment is to no party but only the law and the people of West Virginia and I won’t care if you’re the Governor or his janitor. I’ll give you a fair hearing and decision based only on the facts and the law.
Why should voters elect you rather than your opponents?
If they think everything is great at our Court and in our state and just want more of the same don’t vote for me because I’m an agent of change. I don’t think everything is great and while I don’t criticize any sitting Justice we have enough of the same thing on the Court and we need to put a taxpayer among the robes. That change is me.
In your opinion, what has been the greatest accomplishment of your legal career?
My greatest accomplishment is decades of continuous success in my firm and representing the hundreds of people in terrible situations around West Virginia and providing them some comfort. I often spent the last days of dying cancer victims with them and they are still my heroes.
How would you prepare yourself to handle cases involving unfamiliar areas of the law?
My academic and career success speaks for itself and there is a reason the National Trial Lawyer’s Association listed me as a Top 100 lawyer, a Litigation Star in Benchmark Litigation or the President’s Award from the Association for Justice. I’m intelligent, I can learn and I can adapt because I always have.
Do you believe that justices have a responsibility to improve public understanding of the courts? If so, how should they carry out that obligation?
Transparency is critical for our Court. I believe that I am a strong communicator with a reputation for honesty and I will bring that to the Court. I will open the lines of communication from the Court to the public.
Do you believe that all West Virginians have adequate access to legal help and the legal system? What do you believe is the greatest obstacle to justice, if anything?
Money is an obstacle for everyone. It always has been and always will be. We need to simply the system and not add more layers of red tape and delay.
Would you be in favor of the Supreme Court adopting standard rules requiring the recusal of judges from cases involving a major campaign contributor or supporter? Why or why not?
Yes. If the Court isn’t viewed as fair the system will break down even further. It doesn’t get anymore basic than we have to care about perception because often it is reality.
As a Supreme Court justice, what recommendations would you make to improve the administration and management of West Virginia’s judicial system?
We have to have the best Court Administrator and watch him like a hawk. It the job of the Court to be a good shepherd of our $130 million tax dollars. The Court must never forget it belongs to the taxpayer.
In your opinion, what is the best movie, television program or book ever set inside a courtroom and why?
To Kill A Mockingbird is an all time classic of ethics and skill and a lawyer at his best.