02 February 2010

Legislature 2010: Supreme Court

West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Davis updated lawmakers on the ongoing revision of the court's appeals rules, while also coming out "personally against adding a midlevel appeals court," The Associated Press and others report.

The court aims to make its rules more clear, largely to "help silence critics who argue that West Virginia lacks an automatic right to appeal," the article said.

"Our proposed revised rules will make it more transparent that an appeal of right exists in West Virginia," Davis explained to lawmakers. "(They) will show that each properly prepared appeal will result in a decision on the merits of the case."

With that stance, Davis then took issue with allegations to the contrary raises by some of the legislators:

Davis said all five justices on the court review each appeal filed. She agreed that not all these appeals get a hearing where lawyers argue the case, nor do all result in a written ruling. "But no appellate court in the country, either state or federal, permits an oral argument in every single case," Davis said.
As for an intermediate appeals court, Davis said it "would have an estimated $8 million annual price tag and would add time to the appeal process," AP reports. "Davis said special interests who prefer to drag out cases are pushing for a new court."

Others who covered the House chamber presentation include The Charleston Gazette, the Charleston Daily Mail and MetroNews (with audio).

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