CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The debate about creation of an intermediate court in West Virginia has happened for the past several years. However, with the passage and Governor’s signature of Senate Bill 275, the debate is over and the next step is implementing rules and establishment of the parameters of how the new court will work.
“The bill now kind of passes the baton to the Supreme Court,” said Evan Jenkins, Chief Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in an appearance on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline.
Jenkins said while the Legislature had the Constitutional duty to debate the pros and cons of establishing the court, the job of setting it up and establishing how it will work lies solely with the Judicial Branch. Justice Jenkins said they now begin the process with a line by line review of all appellate court regulations which are already in state code. From those they will make decisions on the best way to implement the new court system and make decisions about its operations and day to day work.
“We have everything from the issue of staffing the court to its physical location. Probably most importantly the procedures and rules for those involved in the legal system to know how appeals will be filed,” Jenkins explained.
The legislation gave the court some time to get the process off the ground. The legislation does not take effect until July 1, 2022. Therefore, the high court has more than a year to make those decisions and create the framework. The legislation also laid out exactly what kinds of cases can be heard. The Intermediate Court of Appeals, or the “ICA” will review all civil cases, worker’s comp cases, and final orders from family court.
“In the coming months there will be a lot reported and talked about of what the Supreme Court is doing to get this implemented and structured. The Legislature outlined in Senate Bill 275 which cases and from what courts go to the Intermediate Court of Appeals and which types of cases by-pass the I-C-A and go directly to the Supreme Court,” Jenkins explained.
Under the legislation the intermediate court would have three judges who would initially be appointed to staggered terms by the Governor, then run for full ten year terms in subsequent elections. The final version decided on having only one Intermediate Court of Appeals. The code didn’t specify where it would be located, which will be up to the Supreme Court to determine as part of the implementation work in the coming year.