MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — Retired West Virginia Supreme Court Justice and Monongalia County Circuit Judge Larry Starcher passed away on Christmas Eve. He was 80 years old.

According to a press release from the West Virginia Supreme Court, Justice Larry Starcher was born in Calhoun County in 1942, and was raised in Spencer, Roane County, where he graduated high school.

Justice Starcher earned his bachelor’s degree (1964) and his law degree (1967) from West Virginia University and served as assistant to the vice-president for off-campus education at West Virginia University, director of the North Central West Virginia Legal Aid Society and as a private lawyer before he was elected circuit judge in 1976.

He served as circuit judge for 20 years, 18 of which as chief judge, according to the release. Some of the highlights of that part of his career, the release said, included presiding over the trial of 20,000 asbestos injury cases and a 6-month state buildings asbestos trial and pioneering the use of work release and community service as punishment for nonviolent offenders.

Then, in 1996, he was elected to a full 12-year term on the Supreme Court of Appeals, where he served as chief justice in 1999 and 2003, where he was active in the Mental Hygiene Commission, Self-Represented Litigants Task Force and others, helped make improvements to the State Law Library and reactivated the Gender Fairness Task Force.

He was also behind the J.R. Clifford Project, a series of statewide community programs and publications based on the life and work of J.R. Clifford, West Virginia’s first African American lawyer, the release said.

Justice Starcher retired in 2008, but according to the release, he continued to work as a senior status judge by appointment and as an adjunct lecturer, teaching pre-trial litigation and trial advocacy, at the West Virginia University College of Law until 2020.

He has been honored by many advocacy groups, including the NAACP, Jaycees, and Trial Lawyers, and in 1978, became a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities at Harvard University, the release said.