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The circuit courts are West Virginia’s only general jurisdiction trial courts of record. Circuit courts have jurisdiction over all civil cases involving a certain amount of money; all civil cases in equity; proceedings in habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, prohibition, and certiorari; all felonies; and certain misdemeanors. The circuit courts receive appeals from magistrate courts, municipal courts, and family court decisions in domestic violence proceedings. 

Circuit courts also receive recommended orders from judicial officers who hear mental hygiene matters. Appeals from circuit courts in criminal, juvenile, abuse and neglect, and domestic violence cases go to the Supreme Court, while appeals from circuit courts in civil cases go to the Intermediate Court of Appeals of West Virginia (ICA). 

West Virginia’s fifty-five counties are divided into thirty-one circuits with seventy-five circuit judges. A map of West Virginia’s judicial circuits can be found here. The circuit size and number of judges who work in each circuit is determined by the Legislature.

Circuit judges are required to reside in the circuit they serve and must be admitted to practice law in West Virginia for at least five years prior to taking office. The elections are non-partisan and they serve eight-year terms. If a circuit judge leaves office prior to the expiration of his or her term, the governor appoints a replacement to serve until the next election.

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