West Virginia Court Records
How Does the West Virginia Supreme Court Work?
The West Virginia Judiciary is one of the few court systems in the United States with a single appellate court, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
The Supreme Court of Appeals is the apex court in West Virginia and the court of last resort. It has appellate jurisdiction over all matters heard and decided in any West Virginia lower court. Some of these cases include:
- Appeal cases that may arise due to decisions rendered by any of the state’s lower courts. This also includes appeals from state administrative agencies. (Note that in West Virginia, most appeal cases are typically filed in one of the state’s Circuit Courts first before they are heard in the Supreme Court of Appeals)
- Proceedings involving habeas corpus, prohibition, mandamus, and certiorari (The court has original jurisdiction over these types of cases)
- Workers compensation appeals (The court has exclusive jurisdiction over these types of cases)
In addition to this, the Supreme Court of Appeals also has several administrative responsibilities, which include:
- Hearing appeals on cases that were decided in the any of the state’s lower courts or matters brought directly from a state administrative agency.
- Interpreting the laws and constitution of West Virginia and the United States
- Creating and enforcing rules that govern the West Virginia court system’s judicial practices and procedures.
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals comprises five justices. These justices are elected to a 12-year term in nonpartisan elections. Individuals who wish to participate in the elections must have practiced West Virginia law for a minimum of ten years before being eligible for the position. Once the justices have been elected, a Chief Justice is chosen every year by court members. Where there is a vacancy in the court, the State Governor appoints a justice to fill the position. Appointees who wish to remain as members of the court after the term’s expiration must run in the next election.
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals justices are granted extraordinary writ powers and are considered the final authority in all state legal matters.
When the state Supreme Court of Appeals sits to hear cases, juries, new witnesses or new testimonies are not involved. Instead, attorneys for each party are allowed to submit briefs and present an oral argument before the justices. Oral arguments presented in this court are open to members of the public. After the arguments have been heard, and the submitted briefs have been properly reviewed, the justices then issue written decisions or opinions. All decisions rendered by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals are considered final. However, these decisions may be appealed at a federal level to the United States Supreme Court in some cases.
The West Virginia Judicial Branch provides members of the public with online access to the Supreme Court of Appeals court calendar its official website. Supreme Court case information and orders and briefs filed by the appealing parties in lower courts, can be gotten from this webpage. Additionally, the West Virginia Judicial Branch allows interested persons to view the Supreme Court of Appeals’ opinions and memorandum decisions through an online database. This database contains opinions from September 1991—date.
Parties that wish to obtain hard copies of public filings and other publicly available Supreme Court of Appeals documents can also do so by contacting the office of the Supreme Court Clerk at:
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, WV 25305
Phone: (304) 558–2601
Court Hours: 8:30 a.m.—5:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays
Copies of documents typically cost $1 per page for opinions, 25 cents per page for documents in pending cases, and $1 per page for documents in closed cases. Copies of documents obtained via fax or email cost $5 for the first page, $2 for the second page, and $1 for each additional page after the second one. Parties that obtain documents reproduced from microfilm will also be required to pay an additional $2 fee per page.
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals is located at:
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, WV 25305
It should be noted that even though the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals sits in the capital city of Charleston, this court may also travel to other locations to hear cases. Interested parties that wish to get information related to these hearing locations may do so by contacting the Public Information Office of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals at (304) 340–2305. Queries may also be directed to the Supreme Court of Appeals’ Administrative Office of the Courts at (304) 558–0145.