Keith Lively comes home to run for judge, wants to decide every case ‘reasonably, based on the merits’

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV 

Keith Lively was born and raised in Hinton. “On Temple Street,” he adds. He moved back to the area almost a decade ago following several decades of practicing law across the country, and he is a candidate for Circuit Judge in District 31 which covers Monroe & Summers. 

After graduating from high school, he attended West Virginia University for undergraduate studies before heading to Columbia University for law school. 

“I aced the LSAT and they gave me some money,” he said of his decision to head to the prestigious Ivy League institution. 

“Growing up here, I felt all the limitations young people often feel. I was chompin’ at the bit to get out,” he remembers. “But the longer I was away, the more I missed the lifestyle I grew up with.”

Lively has practiced numerous types of law during his storied career. He never wanted to be tied to one specific type of practice. 

“When i was at the plaintiff’s firm, they hated defense firms with a passion,” he says. “And vice versa. I was never very comfortable with that. I like the idea of being able to take each case on the merits.”

“That’s one advantage to being a judge. You don’t always get to pick and choose your clients at a firm or the positions you take in front of a course. The judge is the one person who truly gets to see everything objectively and make a decision that’s just based upon the merits instead of based on your own client’s interest.”

Lively says a judge has the ability to “do a lot of good for the community,” which attracts him to the position. “My dad grew up in Wayside, I grew up in Hinton, and I’ve worked to serve the community.” 

In 2016, he began living and working from Hinton after buying a house. He frequently takes the Amtrak train to Washington DC for his legal work and sometimes drives. “It’s been good to be back.” 

“I have represented Main Street Hinton and we’ve been able to do quite a bit,” he adds of his community service. “We saved the nursing home. We built some independent living which helps with affordable housing and revitalizing a rundown neighborhood. It happens to be the neighborhood I grew up in. It’s the first new construction in 40 years. We were inspired by Monroe County and the project they did in Waiteville.” 

This is Lively’s first time running for public office. “I’m a little bit introverted. Having to go up to people and speak with them if you’ve never met and tell them about yourself, that’s tough,” he shares. “But it’s been good. The good news isn’t always reported on TV. Sometimes you have to go see it in person.”

Lively believes the judicial process is good for society. “People are fundamentally reasonable at the end of the day. If the facts are laid out, the law is laid out, and people have the opportunity to explain themselves, that’s going to lead to better outcomes.” 

Lively is running for Circuit Court in District 31 which serves Monroe & Summers. His opponents include Kristin Cook, Amy Mann, and Rod Mohler. Voters will choose a new judge in the primary election this May. 

For more information on Keith Lively, visit


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