Long-Awaited Intermediate Court of Appeals Approved by West Virginia Governor
Governor Jim Justice has signed Senate Bill 275, which includes the West Virginia Appellate Reorganization Act of 2021. The Act creates the framework for an Intermediate Court of Appeals that will be operable by July 1, 2022. Passage of the Act has long been supported by business groups, including the U.S. and West Virginia Chambers of Commerce. West Virginia will join 40 states that have intermediate appellate courts.
The Intermediate Court of Appeals will consist of three judges, initially appointed by the Governor to serve staggered terms. As the terms expire, there will be nonpartisan elections for 10-year terms.
The Intermediate Court of Appeals will have jurisdiction over final orders in the following: (1) circuit court civil cases; (2) family court cases; (3) circuit court guardianship or conservatorship matters; (4) agency or administrative law judge matters; (5) Health Care Authority matters; (6) Office of Judges matters; and (7) Workers’ Compensation Board of Review matters. The Intermediate Court of Appeals will issue written decisions in each appeal. Such written decisions will be binding precedent on all lower courts and agencies unless they are overruled or modified by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
The Supreme Court of Appeals will have discretionary review of decisions by the Intermediate Court of Appeals. Under extraordinary circumstances, the Supreme Court of Appeals may grant a motion for direct review of a final order otherwise within the jurisdiction of the Intermediate Court of Appeals. To qualify for direct review by the Supreme Court of Appeals, the appeal must involve a question of fundamental public importance and involve exigencies in which time is of the essence, necessitating such direct review.