CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice made history Tuesday when he announced the first-ever appointees to the newly created West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals during a virtual press conference at the State Capitol.
Gov. Justice appointed Thomas E. Scarr of Huntington for a term of two-and-a-half years, Daniel W. Greear of Charleston for a term of four-and-a-half years, and Donald A. Nickerson Jr. of Wheeling for a term of six-and-a-half years.
The appointments were made with the assistance of the Judicial Vacancy Advisory Commission, which, statutorily, must receive applications, perform interviews, and provide a list of potential appointees to the Governor, from which he picks.
After several prior attempts over many years failed to establish such a court in West Virginia, the WV Intermediate Court of Appeals was successfully created during the 2021 Regular Legislative Session by the passage of Senate Bill 275, which was signed into law by Gov. Justice in April 2021.
A total of 25 individuals applied to fill the three seats on the WV Intermediate Court of Appeals.
The three newly appointed judges must be confirmed by the West Virginia Senate.
Once the confirmation process is complete, the panel of judges will assume their duties by July 1, 2022.
Thomas E. Scarr’s term will conclude on Dec. 31, 2024.
Daniel W. Greear’s term will conclude on Dec. 31, 2026.
Donald A. Nickerson Jr.’s term will conclude on Dec. 31, 2028.
WHAT TYPES OF CASES WILL BE HEARD
Pursuant to the language in SB 275, the Intermediate Court of Appeals will hear the following cases:
• Appeals from circuit courts in civil cases and those concerning guardianship or conservatorship.
• Appeals from family courts, except for domestic violence proceedings.
• Appeals from state agencies or administrative law judges.
• Appeals from decisions or orders issued by the Workers’ Compensation Office of Judges after June 30, 2022, until its termination, and from orders or decisions of the Workers’ Compensation Board of Review after June 30, 2022.
The bill also states that “The Supreme Court may, on its own accord, obtain jurisdiction over any civil case appealed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals.”
Also, a party may file for a direct review by the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court may grant the motion if the appeal involves “a question of fundamental public importance” and “involves exigencies.”
HOW THE INTERMEDIATE COURT WILL OPERATE
The Intermediate Court of Appeals has the discretion to determine which cases require oral argument. “A written decision on the merits shall be issued as a matter of right in each appeal that is properly filed and within the jurisdiction of the Intermediate Court of Appeals,” according to SB 275.
A written opinion, order, or decision of the Intermediate Court of Appeals “is binding precedent for the decisions of all circuit courts, family courts, magistrate courts, and agencies unless the opinion, order, or decision is overruled or modified by the Supreme Court of Appeals,” as stated in SB 275.
One Judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals shall be chosen Chief Judge in a manner determined by the Supreme Court. The Clerk of the Supreme Court shall also act as the Clerk of the Intermediate Court of Appeals and may employ additional staff to do so. The Administrative Director of the Supreme Court of Appeals shall provide administrative support and may employ additional staff to do so.