The West Virginia Supreme Court is requesting public comment on a proposed amendment that would give the circuit court discretion to grant a motion to sever or order other relief in the instance of a joint indictment or consolidated trial.

The move comes after Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Alfred E. Ferguson made the proposal to amend Rule 14(b) of the state Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Currently, the rule states, “Upon a joint indictment or information in a felony case against several persons, the court shall upon motion of any defendant or the state order separate trials.”

The proposal states, “If the joinder of defendants in an indictment, an information or a consolidation for trial appears to prejudice the defendant or the State, the Court may order separate trials of counts, sever the defendants' trials, or provide whatever other relief that justice requires."

The proposal order was made Nov. 17 at the state Supreme Court. The comment period closes Jan. 30. Comments are to be filed with the Clerk of Court.

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