CHARLESTON -- The Business Court Committee established by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals met by conference call Oct. 28 and passed a resolution setting its mission, comprehensive plan and vision.

The committee also voted to hold a public forum at 10 a.m. Nov. 12 in the House of Delegates Chamber. Judge Ben F. Tennille, Chief Special Superior Court Judge for Complex Business Cases in North Carolina, will speak at the forum. Tennille created the nation's first statewide business court after he took his position in January 1996.

The Supreme Court of West Virginia established the Business Court Committee in its administrative conference in June in response to House Bill 4352, which the Legislature passed March 11. The committee is charged with evaluating business court legislation.

Members of the committee are:

* Circuit Judge Darrell Pratt of the Twenty-Fourth Judicial Circuit (Wayne County), Chairman of the Committee

* Circuit Judge Donald Cookman of the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit (Hampshire, Hardy and Pendleton counties)

* Circuit Judge Rudolph J. Murensky II of the Eight Judicial Circuit (McDowell County)

* Circuit Judge James J. Rowe of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit (Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties)

* Circuit Judge Susan B. Tucker of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit (Monongalia County)

* Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes of the Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit (Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties)

The committee has had two brief organizational meetings.

The mission of the committee is to explore the feasibility of establishing a specialized court function devoted exclusively to the resolution of commercial disputes, as well as its advantages, disadvantages and parameters.

"Cases in West Virginia involving business related issues are currently being handled fairly, effectively and expeditiously," the committee said in its vision statement. "However, there always exists room for improvement in any case resolution system. Business related cases and issues are often complex in nature and, as a result, it is worthwhile to consider a dispute resolution approach that is specifically tailored to such cases and such issues.

"Needless to say, improvements in the operation of any branch of our government, be it executive, legislative or judicial, serve to benefit all citizens of the state of West Virginia."

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