SUPREME COURT OF APPEALS OF WEST VIRGINIA
There are a few individual boards and commissions that work closely with the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia and are important to people in the legal community.
WEST VIRGINIA BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS
The West Virginia Board of Law Examiners consists of seven members of the West Virginia State Bar who are appointed by the Supreme Court of Appeals. The board represents different geographical regions of West Virginia. Board members serve seven-year terms and may be reappointed by the Court for additional terms.
The board evaluates the educational background, credentials, character and fitness and competence of each applicant for admission to the practice of law in West Virginia under the Supreme Court Rules for Admission. The rules layout for State Bar applicants’ guidelines for admission by examination, admission without examination, as resident professors of law, conditional admission, and limited permission for indigent legal services or public defender program attorneys.
Two full-time staff members serve as the board’s liaison to applicants for admission, the general public, and agencies requiring bar admissions assistance and information. They also administer the bar examination, provide certification of the eligibility of individual applicants to the Supreme Court Clerk, and coordinate monthly swearing-in ceremonies before the Supreme Court Justices.
JUDICIAL INVESTIGATION COMMISSION
The Judicial Investigation Commission was established by the Supreme Court of Appeals to determine whether probable cause exists to formally charge a judge with a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which were promulgated by the Supreme Court of Appeals to govern the ethical conduct of judges. The Commission also determines whether a judge, because of advancing years and attendant physical and mental incapacity, should not continue to serve,” according to The West Virginia Rules of the Judicial Disciplinary Procedure, Rule 1. The commission consists of nine members: three circuit judges; one magistrate; one family court judge; one mental hygiene commissioner; and three members of the public.
In the West Virginia Rules of Judicial Disciplinary Procedure, “judge” is defined as anyone-whether or not a lawyer-who is an officer of a judicial system and who performs judicial functions, including but not limited to justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals, circuit judges, family court judges, magistrates, mental hygiene commissioners, juvenile referees, special commissioners, and special masters. This site describes the procedures the commission follows for handling complaints against judges.
OFFICE OF DISCIPLINARY COUNSEL
For complaints against lawyers, visit the Office of Disciplinary Counsel website. The Lawyer Disciplinary Board, with the assistance of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, has jurisdiction to investigate complaints regarding violations to the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers; to hold hearings; and to make recommendations with respect to disciplinary action to be taken against lawyers. The board consists of two-thirds practicing lawyers and one-third non-lawyers, all appointed by the President of the Board of Governors of The West Virginia State Bar. The board is divided into an Investigative Panel and a Hearing Panel. Both the board and Office of Disciplinary Counsel are funded by the West Virginia State Bar from dues paid by practicing state lawyers.