Randy Yohe Published

Former Lawmaker, Chief Justice Warren McGraw Has Died

Gray-haired man wearing judge's robes.
Former Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, Warren McGraw, has died.
Courtesy WV Supreme Court of Appeals

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Story updated on June 15, 2023 at 11:43 a.m.

Longtime West Virginia democratic legislator and jurist Warren McGraw, who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, passed away Wednesday at the age of 84. The brother of former Attorney General Darrell McGraw, he resigned from his position at Wyoming County Circuit Court Judge in May 2021 due to the onset of the disease, 

McGraw began his political career in 1968 when he was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates, serving there until 1972. He was then elected to the West Virginia Senate in 1972, serving three consecutive terms. During his third term, McGraw was then elected (twice) 44th Senate President.

After his service in the West Virginia Legislature, McGraw returned to Wyoming County to practice law where he was elected to the Board of Education in 1986 and later as Prosecuting Attorney in 1996. In 1998 McGraw successfully campaigned for an unexpired six-year term in the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. He served as Chief Justice in 2001.

In 2008 and 2016 McGraw successfully ran for Wyoming County Circuit Court Judge, which he won both times and received over 80 percent of the vote.

Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, released this statement on the passing of former Senate President and Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals Warren McGraw:

Though he may be most remembered for his public service as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals, Justice McGraw proudly served the people of Wyoming County as their Senator, and he never forgot his deep, proud southern West Virginia roots. On behalf of the entire West Virginia Senate, I send my prayers to the family and friends of former Senate President Warren McGraw during their time of sorrow.”

Wyoming County Circuit Court Judge Mike Cochrane said McGraw was a small-town lawyer who went on to big things, but never wavered from his principles.

“He cared about the underprivileged and wanted to make sure that each and every citizen got an equal shot at life,” Cochrane said. “He was very generous with his time and cared about everybody. As a judge, he was very fair and his decisions were always people generated, and in the best interest of justice.”

West Virginia Democratic Party Chair, Del. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, released this statement on McGraw’s legacy.

“Warren McGraw never forgot that a society is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members. From school board to the state legislature to his time on the Supreme Court, he fought with every ounce of his ability to improve the lives of the poor, and those struggling to make a better life for themselves and for their families. We extend our deepest condolences to his friends and family during this difficult time.”

Cochrane said McGraw was an active U.S. Attorney during the civil rights movements of the1960s and a stalwart of the West Virginia Democratic Party. 

“When I was prosecutor, his wall was decorated with pictures of famous people,” Cochrane said. “Robert Kennedy was down here and Judge McGraw took him around the county, probably a month before he was assassinated. He had a picture of Hubert Humphrey, of Jesse Jackson and a couple of Jimmy Carter in there. He was one of the last, of the really, Kennedy-Johnson era type Democrats.”