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WV Update – West Virginia Enacts Legislation to Implement Intermediate Court of Appeals

On April 8th, 2021, Senate Bill 275 was signed by Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia. This new bill creates The Intermediate Court of Appeals of West Virginia.  This bill removes the Workers’ Compensation Office of Administrative Law Judges, also known as the Office of Judges, and transfers its duties and powers to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Review. The Office of Judges shall terminate on or before October 1, 2022, as provided in §23-5-8a, and all powers and duties of the Office of Judges to review objections, protests, or any other authorized matter shall be transferred to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Review on July 1, 2022.

The new court will consist of one three-judge panel that will be appointed by Gov. Jim Justice by July 1, 2022. West Virginians will get to vote on the judges for the new court in 2024, 2026, and 2028. After those elections, the judges will serve 10-year terms. The Court will not have any original jurisdiction, but it will have appellate jurisdiction to hear the following matters: (1) circuit court civil cases; (2) family court matters; (3) circuit court guardianship or conservatorship matters pursuant to § 44A-1-1 et seq.; (4) agency or administrative law judge matters; (5) Health Care Authority matters; (6) Office of Judges matters; and (7) Workers’ Compensation Board of Review matters. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals would then have discretion as to whether or not any appeals from the intermediate appellate court would be heard. The Supreme Court of Appeals will have discretionary review of decisions by the Intermediate Court of Appeals. To qualify for direct review by the Supreme Court of Appeals, the appeal must involve a question of fundamental public importance or extreme circumstances.