Will this be the year that West Virginia finally gets an intermediate appellate court?
Two weeks ago, our state Senate passed a bill to establish the court. If the House of Delegates approves the measure and the governor signs it, as he has promised to do, we’ll get the court that so many state boosters have so long desired – and so many trial lawyers continue to oppose, ostensibly out of budgetary concerns.
The boosters are convinced that the court will help create a friendlier business environment in West Virginia and, thereby, spur economic growth.
“It is great to see West Virginia take this historic step to modernize the state’s judicial system with the creation of an intermediate court of appeals,” exults Jordan Burgess of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. “We'd thank the state Senate for their hard work passing this important piece of legislation that has been desperately needed for quite some time.”
Burgess urges the Delegates to put their stamp of approval on the measure and usher in “a modernized and fair judicial system here in West Virginia.”
Steve Roberts of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce also supports the new court, predicting that it will alleviate the caseload backlog in our circuit courts.
“As we seek to diversify our economy and increase opportunities for more people and create more employment, we must adopt policies and governmental structures appropriate to the 21st century,” Roberts asserts. “The creation of this court will be one more step in the direction of meeting the challenges and opportunities that come with a more diverse and, we anticipate, growing state.”
The most compelling argument in favor of establishing an intermediate appellate court may be the trial bar’s opposition to it. Kristina Thomas Whiteaker of the West Virginia Association for Justice denounces the Senate-passed bill as “a handout to billion-dollar corporations and big insurance.”
It apparently doesn’t occur to her and her colleagues that the average West Virginian might like having more employment opportunities and more insurance providers to choose from.