CHARLESTON -- Reaction from various groups about Gov. Joe Manchin's State of the State address, particularly his comments about judicial reform.
* Richie Heath, executive director of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse:
"Governor Manchin's own judicial reform commission has identified the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals as one of the busiest appeals courts in the nation. Given this fact, it is difficult to imagine that our state Supreme Court would be equipped to handle the increased workload that would accompany a meaningful automatic right of appeal -- without the creation of an intermediate court of appeals.
"The creation of an intermediate court of appeals -- which has been recommended for more than a decade now -- would cost less than one-half of one percent of this year's proposed budget -- well worth the costs necessary to ensure equal access to justice."
* Tim Bailey, president of the West Virginia Association for Justice:
"We are pleased that Governor Manchin has agreed with us that public financing should be adopted for Supreme Court races in West Virginia. We hope that the legislature agrees as well, and makes the pilot program a reality.
"We believe, however, that it is equally important to continue to support the legislature's past efforts to curtail and limit the abuses of these large, out-of-state, third-party frontgroups who shield themselves from being identified with the corporate special interests that really fund them.
"Finally, we applaud the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals for the initiative its justices showed in dealing with issue of the right of appeal by developing rules that make the unfair criticisms of that court moot."
* Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce:
"We appreciate the governor's attention and concern about the need for fair courts and fair trials. Every effort to improve West Virginia's reputation is welcome."