SUPREME COURT OF APPEALS OF WEST VIRGINIA
ABOUT THE COURT
The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia is West Virginia's highest court and has judicial and administrative jurisdiction over the entire state court system. The Supreme Court Administrative Office provides administrative support to all levels of the court system.
The court sits in Charleston but may hold hearings in other cities.
There are five Supreme Court justices (not judges) who are elected to 12-year terms in nonpartisan statewide elections. Candidates must have practiced law in West Virginia for at least 10 years. Their salaries are set by the Legislature. As of July 1, 2022, their annual salaries are $149,600. If a justice leaves office before the end of a term the governor appoints a replacement. Some appointees may remain in office until the unexpired term ends while some must run for election to complete the full term, depending on how much time is left on the term at the time of appointment.
The chief justice is chosen by members of the court and serves a one-year term.
The five Supreme Court justices hear
- Appeals of decisions over all matters decided in the ICA;
- Appeals from circuit court in criminal matters, juvenile proceedings, child abuse and neglect proceedings;
- Extraordinary writs involving habeas corpus and domestic violence;
- Cases requiring interpretation of the laws and constitutions of West Virginia and the United States.
The court also has original jurisdiction in extraordinary writ proceedings involving habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, prohibition and certiorari.
There are two terms of the court each year. The first term begins on the second Tuesday in January and ends in June. The second term begins on the first Wednesday in September and ends in November. The time period between terms is called "sine die," which is Latin for "without day." During that time the justices may consider emergency business.
The West Virginia Constitution gives the Supreme Court power to create rules governing court practice and procedure. The Court has adopted a Code of Judicial Conduct, Rules for Admission to the Practice of Law, Rules of Professional Conduct, Rules of Judicial Disciplinary Procedure and Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Procedure.
Decisions by the Supreme Court of Appeals can be appealed only to the Supreme Court of the United States, which may or may not agree to consider an appeal.
Following American custom since the 1800s, the justices wear black robes. Further, as is customary in American courts, the justices are seated by seniority on the bench. The chief justice occupies the center chair. The senior justice sits to the right of the chief justice, the second senior to the chief justice’s left, and so on, alternating right and left by seniority.