How long must we wait for an intermediate appellate court?

By The West Virginia Record | Jan 14, 2019

It’s deja vu all over again.

Last year, the West Virginia Senate Judiciary Committee recommend passage of the intermediate appeals court bill to the full senate. The bill specified how the new court was to be organized and operated, how its judges were to be elected, what districts and jurisdictions it would be comprised of, what qualifications its members should possess, and what its initial budget would be.

If the court had been established, Gov. Jim Justice would have been able to make initial appointments last July and the court would have begun operating by July of this year. West Virginia would no longer have been one of only nine U.S. states lacking an appellate court between its circuit and supreme courts, and plaintiffs and defendants striking out at the circuit level would have had a much better chance of securing a second hearing of their case.

But the bill never made it to the governor’s desk, so here we are a year later, starting the process all over again.

A bill to establish such a court was introduced again last week at the opening session of the Legislature. In his address to the assembly, Gov. Justice endorsed the measure and encouraged the lawmakers to pass it.

“It's time to create an intermediate court of appeals in West Virginia,” Justice said. “It's another step forward … to restoring honor and integrity back to the court system.”

Trial attorneys oppose the measure, but state boosters have long advocated for intermediate appellate courts, knowing they would make West Virginia’s business climate friendlier to commercial interests and help revitalize our economy.

Former Gov. Joe Manchin’s Independent Commission on Judicial Reform recommended the establishment of an intermediate appellate court 10 years ago, and here we are still talking about it.

Elvis Presley summed up the situation we face – and the solution for it – when he sang this line decades ago: “A little less conversation, a little more action please.”

Pass the bill, so Justice can sign it.

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West Virginia House of Delegates West Virginia State Senate West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

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