WVCCE Comments on Anti-Bias Rules for WV Intermediate Court and WV Supreme Court of Appeals

On July 1, 2022, the judicial system in West Virginia will have an Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA). On February 22, 2022, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia entered an order requesting public comment on amendments to procedural rules that are necessary to set forth the appellate procedure for the ICA, once established. WV Citizens for Clean Elections submitted the comments below on the amendments to the Rules of Appellate procedure, and more specifically Rule 33 pertaining to “Disqualification of a Judge of the Intermediate Court or of a Justice of the Supreme Court.”

We urged the Court to strengthen Rule 33 to provide for independent review of recusal decisions and to address the problems posed by campaign contributions and independent expenditures in judicial elections. 

At a time when the code of conduct for the U.S. Supreme Court is under increased scrutiny for lacking such procedures and leaving it the Justices themselves to decide whether to recuse, the West Virginia Supreme Court has an opportunity to adopt strong anti-bias rules that will increase public confidence in the new appellate court, as well as in the state Supreme Court itself. 

In addition, amending the rules to take into account the modern realities of judicial elections will help avoid real and perceived conflicts of interest while promoting judicial independence and accountability when wealthy individuals and outside groups choose to weigh in on judicial elections.

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Julie Archer

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