The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, in its June 2011 Administrative Conference, approved of the Business Court Committee’s proposal to allow the committee to develop rules and procedures to create a business court in West Virginia. The Court also directed the committee to consider any changes in the West Virginia Code that may need to be enacted in the 2012 Legislative Session to allow a business court to be established in the state.
“This should not be misunderstood as the Court’s approval of a business court at this point. The final approval of the rules is still some months ahead,” said Supreme Court Administrative Director Steve Canterbury.
The committee plans to have written rules available for public comment and public hearings before the end of 2011 and proposed legislation available for the 2012 Legislative Session. After the public comment period, the rules will be presented to the Supreme Court, which must approve them before a business court is established in West Virginia.
The committee has agreed that the proposed court should be called a Commercial Litigation Court. It will have seven judges who also would be active or senior status circuit judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to serve staggered terms of seven years each. The judges would have a background in business or commercial litigation and would receive special training by the National Association of Business Court Judges.
The Chief Justice would appoint a Chief Judge to oversee administrative matters.
The proposed Commercial Litigation Court would have statewide jurisdiction and operate in seven regional divisions based around the state’s largest population areas.
The Court would abide by West Virginia Trial Court Rules but will make an effort to conclude every case within twelve months of the date the case management order in that case was filed.
The Business Court Committee is led by Twenty-Fourth Judicial Circuit (Wayne County) Judge Darrell Pratt.
Other members of the committee are Circuit Judge Donald Cookman of the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit (Hampshire, Hardy and Pendleton Counties); Circuit Judge Rudolph J. Murensky, II of the Eight Judicial Circuit (McDowell County); Circuit Judge James J. Rowe of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit (Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties); Circuit Judge Susan B. Tucker of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit (Monongalia County); and Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes of the Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit (Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties).