A state Supreme Court justice called himself the nation's stupidest and laziest jurist in a want ad aimed at getting law clerks.

"You've got to come up with an act to get the good people to come to you," Justice Richard Neely said, explaining that he used the self-depreciating language to compete against recruiters from more prestigious courts and higher-paying law firms.The advertisement in the April 12 issue of the University of Virginia Law Weekly read: "West Virginia's infamous once and future Chief Justice Richard Neely, America's laziest and dumbest judge, seeks a bright person to keep him from looking stupid.

"Preference will be given to U. Va. law students who studied interesting but useless subjects at snobby schools.

"If you are dead drunk and miss the interviews, send letters. . . ."

Neely said firms willing to pay up to $85,000, far more than the $42,500 he can offer, also are competing for students.

The way to get the best students is to give them something outrageous, he said.

The 49-year-old Neely, first elected to the high court in 1972, revels in his reputation as being outrageous.