West Virginia Record

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

House Finance Committee votes to send intermediate court bill to full House

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By Kyla Asbury | Mar 3, 2020

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CHARLESTON — The House Finance Committee voted on Monday to favorably report Senate Bill 275 to the House floor to be discussed.

Senate Bill 275 passed the committee Monday evening with a 15-10 vote and is now scheduled to go before the full House for debate.

During the committee hearing, Del. Mick Bates (D-Raleigh) moved to postpone the strike and insert on the judiciary amendment indefinitely. Twelve delegates voted no and 10 voted yes to that motion.

Del. Jim Butler (R-Mason) made several motions to move the location of the southern district of the proposed intermediate court, suggesting Spencer in Roane County, Ripley in Jackson County, Hurricane in Putnam County and Pt. Pleasant in Mason County. Each of the motions were rejected by the rest of the committee.

Del. Isaac Sponaugle (D-Pendleton) asked for consideration to put abuse and neglect cases within the intermediate court. The motion was rejected.

"I move for them to be under the intermediate court," Sponaugle said. "I don't think this court is needed at all, but if you're doing to do it, let's make it a good one."

Del. Vernon Criss (R-Wood) said the bill, as amended, would call for staggered terms of 10 years for each of the three judges for each district. The judges will make $130,000 per year.

On Friday, the bill passed the House Judiciary Committee, also with a 15-10 vote. That committee voted to change the court's start date to January 2023.

The committee also created a provision that would allow those seeking to bypass the intermediate court only if their cases were not already covered by existing law. Child abuse and neglect cases, mental hygiene cases or West Virginia Public Service Commission appeals will still go straight to the Supreme Court.

Establishing the court will cost approximately $8.5 million.

With the passage of the bill, the new court would hear most civil appeals from circuit courts instead of them going straight to the Supreme Court. It would have two districts with three judges on each half.

The intermediate court would hear appeals in civil cases, conservatorship and guardianship cases, and rulings from family court, administrative agencies and the Workers’ Compensation Board of Review. If the bill passes, it would also eliminate the Workers’ Compensation Office of Judges.

The Supreme Court would decide which appeals it would consider and which it would reject, sending them to the new court.

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Organizations in this Story

West Virginia Supreme Court of AppealsWest Virginia House of DelegatesWest Virginia State Senate