West Virginia Judicial System and Court System: How Does it Work?
West Virginia organization of the courts
The Supreme Court of Appeals, Circuit Courts, Family Courts, Magistrate Courts, and Municipal Courts form the judicial system in the state of West Virginia. The Chief Justice is the head of the judicial system in the state. The Administrative Director handles all the related administrative matters.
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
In the state of West Virginia, the highest court is the Supreme Court of Appeals. It has a Chief Justice and four associate judges. The judges of the Supreme Court of Appeals are elected for a 12-year term of office. The judges elect a Chief Justice for a 4-year term.
The Supreme Court of Appeals usually does not hear witnesses or examine pieces of evidence. It takes decisions based on arguments, and records of the lower courts. The Supreme Court of Appeals would hear cases that involve capital punishment and also where a law or constitutional provision is invalidSupreme Court of Appeals. Decisions of this court may be appealed to the US Supreme Court.
They also interpret laws and the provisions of the state constitution. It also hears original cases related to habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, and prohibition.
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals is one of the busiest courts in the country. It receives around three thousand appeals every year.
West Virginia Circuit Courts
The Circuit courts in West Virginia are general jurisdiction courts that are the trial courts. The entire state has been divided into 31 circuits, and each circuit has circuit courts. There are a total of 66 circuit judges. This court hears all civil cases of value more than $300 and all criminal cases. They listen to appeals from all other courts including family courts, subject to the parties agreeing not to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
The judges of these courts are elected for a term of eight years.
West Virginia Family Courts
The Family Courts in West Virginia handle cases related to divorce, child custody, visitation rights, etc. There are a total of 27 family courts that cover the entire state. There are 47 judges in these family courts that handle cases. Decisions of this court can be appealed to the circuit court or directly to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
West Virginia Magistrate Court
The Magistrate Court is a court of limited jurisdiction. These courts handle civil cases of less than $5,000. They also handle the issue of warrants and hear misdemeanor cases. There are a total of 55 magistrate courts in West Virginia. All small cases are handled, and these courts are popularly called ‘people's courts.' They are a total of 158 magistrates in the various magistrate courts in the state. Decisions of this court can be appealed to the circuit court.
West Virginia Municipal Court
The Municipal Court handles cases related to local city ordinances.
West Virginia Treatment Court
These are special courts set up to handles issues related to drug addiction. They also handle juvenile drug cases. The objective behind these courts is to help participants get over addictions that can affect their lives and make them commit crimes.
West Virginia Federal system
Like in all other states of the country, there are two judicial systems, one is the West Virginia system of justice as per the state Constitution. The other is the Federal system, as per the US Constitution. Federal courts handle issues related to Federal law. There are a total of four Federal courts in the state of West Virginia. Any appeals against the judgment of these courts are filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th circuit.