Supreme Court continues working on Intermediate Court

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Work continues on establishing an Intermediate Court of Appeals in West Virginia with less than a year before the court is set to begin hearing cases.

Gov. Jim Justice and state lawmakers approved Senate Bill 275 during this year’s regular legislative session. The court will consist of three judges and be responsible for reviewing civil cases as well as matters related to worker’s compensation and family court decisions. The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia is determining how the court will function and day-to-day work.

The court will operate at a $4.6 million cost in its first year and $3.9 million in the ensuing years.

Chief Justice Evan Jenkins

Supreme Court Chief Justice Evan Jenkins told MetroNews that judicial officials are reviewing how intermediate courts operate in other states; West Virginia will become the 42nd state to have such court when it begins work next July.

“We have the opportunity to learn some of the best practices from other states, but also how to avoid some pitfalls,” he said.

According to Jenkins, officials are reviewing several issues related to the court, including personnel policies and where the court will operate.

“Will this be primarily situated in Charleston? How can we use the new technologies that have been really invested in over the past year and a half with COVID? How can we make sure this court is accessible and easy to interact with?” he said. “Because it will have statewide jurisdiction, and we want to make sure that people from the panhandles and any part of West Virginia can interact with the Intermediate Court of Appeals efficiently.”

Jenkins said justices are also identifying areas of the law that need improvements to ensure to new court can properly operate.

“We will work with the Legislature and the governor’s office as we identify issues that might need to be addressed,” he said. “We are very lucky to have a legislative session between now and July 1 of next year so that we can make adjustments if necessary.”

The state Legislature will hold its regular legislative session early next year.

The governor will appoint the first judges to the new court. West Virginia voters will select judges in the 2024, 2026 and 2028 elections, in which each winner will serve a 10-year term.

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