Intermediate Appellate Courtroom ought to embrace first overview of all Household Courtroom choices | Opinion

Why do we need an intermediate appeals court to review all decisions of the family court?

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals website, Quick Reference Facts for 2019 (2020 was not available at the time), provides an interesting look. The facts are: New appeals for domestic relationships, including child abuse and neglect, accounted for 33% (304) of all appeals submitted, while new appeals for other areas of law such as criminal, civil and administrative cases were much lower: 24% (220), 23% (216) and 20% (189), respectively.

However, in its spring and fall 2020 term, the Supreme Court issued a total of 937 opinions and decisions, of which there were only 25 family law decisions, or a dismal 2.7% for the combined terms. In order not to cite COVID-19 as an excuse for a relatively low clearance rate and review of domestic relations cases, the same website shows that during the Supreme Court’s tenure in the fall of 2019 without COVID, only 21 out of 253 (8.3% ) decided cases were classified as family law matters.

Perhaps a more telling, and near-clearer picture of the important role family law cases play in the West Virginia legal landscape can be made by examining the Supreme Court’s 2019 Annual Report of the Supreme Court of Electricity and finding that there are new state filings in the 55 counties of the United States of family law cases (24,767) resulted in an overwhelming majority in civil suits being filed second with 22,432, and criminal cases in third with 12,021. What do these admittedly dry math numbers really tell us?

First, family law issues such as divorce, custody, visiting grandparents, LGBTQ fairness, and domestic violence affect more families, more people, more average citizens, more hardworking residents, more unrecognized teachers, and more professionals and lunch-bucket workers alike than large corporate resolutions , Car wrecks, arson, border disputes and the petty thefts of porch pirates.

Second, these statistics are uncomfortable pulling on a shroud that is constantly being pulled away: these family courts, and especially the important work they do, are often viewed as disruptive. In general, the senior judicial authorities view family courts and domestic affairs with contempt, even contempt.

Why is this? The truth is that many high-level appeal leaders have little or negligible practical experience in the field of family law. Could any of these appellate judges or judges even use a child benefit formula?

Nevertheless, they are encouraged to pass on child-related topics. The obvious result to the reader is that the most important case in your and your child’s life is decided by many law enforcement officials who have never tried a custody case in their professional lives.

However, the main reason for this is because family disputes are disgusting, filthy, emotional, time-consuming, filthy, and endless.

Raw people and good people at worst are mercilessly flaunted. These cases have neither the glamor nor the prestige or the remote abstraction of regressive tax theories or violated constitutional rights or corporate takeovers. However, a fact is without meaningful debate – no one can deny its prevalence or importance.

What does this have to do with an intermediate appeals court? In the following paragraphs I am not speaking on behalf of any group, individual or family judge other than myself. It’s just my opinion.

As in previous years, the benefits, cost, and feasibility of establishing an Intermediate Appeal Court, like the Specter of Marley’s Ghost, have consistently emerged before West Virginia law.

While I am not pretending to articulate a position on the merits or lack of merits of the proposal, I do note that a feature of an earlier version had a very appealing aspect (and has a new iteration) if the measure were to be adopted in relation to on and as a possible remedy to the current disrepute in which family courts are now held and the associated delays in filing family complaints.

During the 2018 legislative term, SB 341 was offered, but ultimately defeated, which provided that an interim appeals court would, among other things, conduct the first appeals review of decisions of the family court, ignoring and revising the current structure that requires an initial It can appeal to the district courts who already have serious criminal and civil files.

In short, a belated move along with the potential for pre-trial detention (which was sent back to the family court for whatever reason) was removed from appeal by the 2018 SB 341.

The advantage of Proposal SB 341 was that any appeal following the judgment of the family court would bring the family court decision to the state, not the county, level. and presumably the Intermediate Court of Appeals could come up with a faster decision.

Put simply, the Intermediate Appellate Court, which sits in two state geographic divisions and employs six judges, would only hear appeals and not in addition to multi-jury and non-jury trials that the county courts have to deal with on a daily basis.

Under a 2021 bill similar to SB 341, such as the recently enrolled SB 4 (February 10) and SB 275 (February 13) bill, the right to appeal to the West Virginia Supreme Court will exist as before remain intact, but would invariably reduce the burden of appeal to the West Virginia Supreme Court, and this could result in faster family closure in domestic cases.

Jim Douglas has been a judge on the Kanawha County Family Court for nearly 40 years and a former divorce attorney.

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