West Virginia: two bills try two different ways to create an Intermediate Appellate Court

For two decades, West Virginia legislators have debated the creation of an Intermediate Appellate Court, and 2015 is proving to be no different. This year’s proposals appear to be effect repeats of those submitted in prior years and detailed in this post from 2013.

SB 129 would use a practice, common in the 1700s and 1800s but abandoned in all other states, of assigning no permanent judges to the court (“No judge may be permanently assigned to this court, but a judge shall be assigned to a panel to hear cases before that panel of the court by designation.”) Instead, the three-judge panels of the Intermediate Court of Appeals would be made up of two sitting or retired Circuit Court judges sitting with a member of the state’s Supreme Court.

SB 134 is a “Civil Justice Reform Act” that includes a multitude of provisions, including creation of a 9 judge Intermediate Court of Appeals (3 judges per district). The judges would be permanently assigned to that court, although Circuit Court judges could be temporarily assigned in cases such as disqualification.

Both bills have been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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