Let's make our state more appealing

By The West Virginia Record | Jan 30, 2018

How can you not like something that's inherently appealing?

Like an appeals court. Not the state Supreme Court we already have, but an intermediate appellate court in-between our state's supreme and circuit courts. Like the appeals courts that exist in our federal judicial system and in all state judicial systems but those of West Virginia and eight other outliers.

Like the U.S. Supreme Court, our state Supreme Court can only hear so many cases. So, if you're a plaintiff or a defendant in a circuit court case and you don't like the decision rendered and want to have it reviewed by a higher authority, you're pretty much stuck, because it's unlikely that your case will be one of the small percentage of contested cases that our state Supreme Court agrees to consider.

With an intermediate appellate court system, however, your odds of getting a second hearing are much greater.

This is not a revelation. As we said, 41 other states have intermediate appellate courts, and reformers in West Virginia have been advocating for them for quite some time. Former Gov. Joe Manchin’s Independent Commission on Judicial Reform included an intermediate appellate court among its recommendations in 2009.

West Virginia has long suffered from a reputation for having an unfriendly business climate. Intermediate appellate courts were recognized long ago as a reform that could make our climate more appealing.

Bills have been introduced in our state legislature more than once since 2009 to create such a court system, and another has been introduced this year.

Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson) affirmed the obvious when he noted that an intermediate appellate court would provide for a quicker turnaround for individuals and businesses by allowing them to challenge lower court decisions without having to go to the state Supreme Court.

“We've talked about it for years,” Carmichael said. “I’m hopeful this year that we can work very hard to attain that. I think that would be something that would really move West Virginia forward.”

If appeals courts prove unappealing, we can repeal them.

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