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No. 31555    -    State of West Virginia ex rel. J.B. Rees v. The Honorable John W. Hatcher

Davis, J., dissenting:

    The majority has concluded that Judge Hatcher acted improperly when he sanctioned the petitioner without providing an opportunity to be heard and by assessing jury costs against the petitioner. I respectfully dissent from the majority opinion. We have recognized that “[t]rial courts have the inherent power to manage their judicial affairs that arise during proceedings in their courts, which includes the right to manage their trial docket[,]” Syl. pt. 2, B.F. Specialty Co. v. Charles M. Sledd Co., 197 W. Va. 463, 475 S.E.2d 555 (1996), and that “[w]e review any trial court's decision in its management of a trial for an abuse of discretion.” State v. Snider, 196 W. Va. 513, 516 n.9, 474 S.E.2d 180, 183 n.9 (1996) (per curiam). Here, Mr. Rees never articulated to Judge Hatcher what information a hearing would produce that could show Judge Hatcher's sanction to be wrong. Thus, I cannot conclude that Judge Hatcher's rulings in this case rise even to the level of a simple abuse of discretion, much less the higher threshold required to issue a writ of prohibition. See, e.g., Syl. pt. 2, State ex rel. Peacher v. Sencindiver, 160 W. Va. 314, 233 S.E.2d 425 (1977) (“A writ of prohibition will not issue to prevent a simple abuse of discretion by a trial court. It will only issue where the trial court has no jurisdiction or having such jurisdiction exceeds its legitimate powers. W. Va. Code, 53-1-1.”). For these reasons, I respectfully dissent.