West Virginians Deserve Full Transparency on Intermediate Court

GRASSROOTS ACTIVISTS CALL ON GOV. JIM JUSTICE, WV SUPREME COURT TO COME CLEAN ABOUT INTERMEDIATE COURT PLANS

West Virginians Deserve Full Transparency, Opportunity for Public Input

CHARLESTON — Grassroots activists are calling for more transparency about the West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals. The court will begin operation in July 2022, but the framework for the new court, including a timeline for the selection of the court’s members, has yet to be released. 

“The people of West Virginia deserve full transparency from the governor and the West Virginia Supreme Court; they deserve the opportunity to weigh in about the creation of the new Intermediate Court of Appeals,” said Julie Archer, Coordinator for WV Citizens for Clean Elections. “Until the chief justice’s remarks earlier this month, we had no public information from the Court or the governor’s office about how they intend to move forward with the creation of the court, its rules, and the appointment process. This is a disturbing start for a brand-new court that will have a huge impact on workers and families across West Virginia.”

The West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals was created earlier this year, proposed by legislators and then signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice in April. The new court would preside over appeals from circuit courts as well as workers’ compensation claims. 

Under the West Virginia Appellate Reorganization Act of 2021, the governor must appoint an initial bench of judges to the three-member court. Upon the conclusion of their initial terms, members of the court will then be elected by voters to serve 10-year terms.

The governor’s office has yet to announce a timetable for the selection process to staff the court. Meanwhile, Chief Justice Jenkins has announced he plans to establish rules for the new court before his term as chief justice expires in December. It’s still not clear when candidates will be selected. Jenkins has said publicly that the selection process could begin at any time

“Courts can only be considered fair and impartial if they are created and staffed in a fair and impartial manner,” said Archer. “That’s why more transparency is needed. To ensure the public’s trust and confidence in the West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals, it’s imperative that the governor’s office provide a public calendar or schedule outlining the appointment process along with clear criteria for potential appointments.”

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