CHARLESTON -- It could be December before revised rules to West Virginia's appellate process go into effect, says the state Supreme Court's clerk.

Rory Perry, West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Clerk, said Tuesday the court would be "carefully reviewing" for the next couple of months the 41 comments filed earlier this month as part of a public comment period.

The proposed rules provide for a decision by the Supreme Court on the merits of every appeal.

Various organizations -- including the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, state public defenders and trade associations -- commented on the revised rules. Some had only minor suggestions, while many others believed the rules could mean a heavier work load, increased costs and be detrimental to the state's business climate.

Following the court's review -- and, most likely, adoption of some suggested revisions -- the new rules will be issued in the fall and become effective by the end of the year, Perry said.

The original plan was for them to become effective in December, but Perry said that depends on how long it takes the court to evaluate the comments and make any necessary changes.

"It's difficult to estimate," he said. "We received 41 comments. Obviously, we don't want to rush through them."

The commenting process, Perry said, was designed to elicit criticism. He found the comments to be more constructive than critical.

"Some of the commenters seem to feel the court is the legislature, and we're not," he said. "But overall I'm very pleased with the scope and breadth of the comments."

Perry would not comment on the specifics of any of the comments filed. "All I can say is that the court will very carefully consider all of the comments received," he said.

As part of the commenting process, Perry traveled the state and gave 10 public seminars, explaining the proposed revised rules and what they meant.

"We worked very hard to educate the public," he said. "I think the rules are bound to improve as a result."

Before the new rules become effective, Perry said additional educational materials would be provided and seminars would be offered to those affected to help better make the transition.

"I know the comments we received are going to be very helpful, and I think the process worked," Perry said.

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