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W. Va. Justices Testify Against Adding Midlevel Appellate Court

Posted Feb 10, 2010 2:06 PM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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Members of the West Virginia Supreme Court appeared Tuesday at a state House Finance Committee hearing to object to the creation of a midlevel appellate court.

The judges asked lawmakers to give them time to come up with new court rules that could satisfy those who have been complaining about the way appeals are handled, reports the Charleston Gazette and the Associated Press.

Tuesday's hearing comes after W. Va. Gov. Joe Manchin recommended that the state create another level of appellate review. His recommendation came after he'd fielded complaints about the appellate court process from the state Chamber of Commerce and business groups.

Lawmakers seemed favorable to the idea, until they saw the price. Estimates are that a new layer of appellate review will cost the state an additional $8.6 to create and $7.6 million annually to run it. Justice Menis Ketchum put the annual figure higher at $15 million.

Justice Robin Davis told the committee that the court is rewriting its rules for handling appeals to make them easier for nonlawyers to understand and to make the process more transparent. One key revision will be that the court will provide a written reason for declining to handle a case on appeal. The three-paragraph denial orders are outdated, she said.

Davis told lawmakers that the court hopes to have its revised rules ready for public comment by year's end.

Hat Tip: How Appealing

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