New Appellate Rules Effective Dec. 1

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West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Approves Revised Rules of Appellate Procedure

Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals held a press conference on October 19, 2010, to announce that the Court had approved comprehensive revisions to the Rules of Appellate Procedure. The Historical Note accompanying the revised Rules states that the revisions were made ?in order to conform to modern practice, which will continue to ensure that each properly filed appeal is completely and carefully reviewed and results in a decision on the merits.?

Under the revised Rules, parties appealing a final judgment of a circuit court will have an appeal of right, instead of an appeal by petition, upon filing a notice of appeal within thirty days of entry of the judgment being appealed. This means that there will no longer be two sets of briefing for the litigants. It also means that the Court no longer will issue no-reason refusal orders.

The Court will not hear oral argument in all cases, and when it does hear oral argument it will be on one of two dockets. The revised Rules publish criteria for circumstances in which oral argument is not necessary, those in which oral argument will be limited to ten minutes per side, coined the Rule 19 Docket, and those in which oral argument will be twenty minutes per side, coined the Rule 20 Docket. Cases on the Rule 19 Docket may be referred to the Rule 20 Docket for further argument.

The Court will issue decisions on the merits in all properly prepared appeals. These decisions will be either in the form of a full opinion, which is generally but not exclusively for cases on the Rule 20 Docket, or in the form of a memorandum decision. A memorandum decision will include a concise statement of the reason for issuing a memorandum decision instead of an opinion in addition to the Court?s decision on the merits.

The effective date of the revised Rules is December 1, 2010. This means that the revised Rules will be applicable in their entirety to all appeals and certified questions arising from orders entered on or after that date. For original jurisdiction cases, which include writ petitions, the revised Rules will be applicable to filings made on or after that date. The Court has reserved the right to enter orders on a case-by-case basis directing parties to comply with the revised Rules in whole or in part in cases arising from orders made before the effective date.

The revised Rules with Clerk Comments are available by clicking this link.

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