Leah Willingham Published

Former Opioids Prosecutor Appointed To W.Va. High Court

C. Haley Bunn.jpg

A former federal prosecutor and West Virginia native who comes from generations of coal miners has been appointed to the state’s highest court, Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday.

C. Haley Bunn of Oceana, Wyoming County, will join the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Bunn fills the seat vacated by former Justice Evan Jenkins, who resigned to return to private law practice in February. She will serve the remainder of his term, which ends in 2024.

Bunn would have had to run in a special election in November, but lawmakers passed a bill this year that would allow pending West Virginia Supreme Court appointees to remain on the bench longer.

Bunn, who graduated with honors from West Virginia University and the West Virginia University College of Law, began her legal career in private practice at Steptoe & Johnson PLLC in Charleston before serving seven years as a federal prosecutor.

“Haley will be a strong conservative voice on the court,” Justice said in a news release. “She understands the importance of faith, traditional values, and law and order. Those things are the backbone of West Virginia.”

Justice said for the state’s economy to keep growing, “employers and job creators have to be confident they can get a fair shake in our courts.”

Bunn’s primary focus as a prosecutor was southern West Virginia’s opioid epidemic. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice selected her as one of 12 prosecutors in the country to serve in a newly created Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit.

During her time working for the U.S. government, Bunn prosecuted West Virginia doctors for illegally prescribing opioids, as well as opioid dealers and distributors. After leaving the United States Attorney’s Office, Bunn rejoined Steptoe & Johnson.

Bunn comes from a multigenerational family of West Virginia coal miners. Two of her great-grandfathers, both of her grandfathers, her father, and many other family members have been underground coal miners. Her husband’s family operated coal mines in West Virginia for decades.

She and her husband live in Charleston with their two children. They attend Bible Center Church, and Bunn serves on the board of Bible Center School. Bunn is a member of the Defense Trial Counsel of West Virginia and has volunteered with the Boy Scouts of America’s Legal Explorers Program.