Intermediate court unnecessary

I have practiced law in nearly every county in the state for almost thirty years. West Virginians do not need an intermediate court. Our population is declining; new case filings are down; and, the number of appeals to our Supreme Court continues to decline.

Right now, if you lose your case in magistrate court, you have an automatic right to an appeal to the circuit court. If you lose your case in circuit court, you have an automatic right to an appeal before the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. Our Supreme Court has taken every case that has been appealed and issued an opinion in every one since 2010.

Intermediate courts just cause delay. With an intermediate court, your case gets appealed to the intermediate court. All you are doing is providing another judgment to appeal. The intermediate court rulings are not binding. They are subject to an immediate appeal. You have just added at least 16 months on to the time that your case will be decided, or more. If there is no intermediate court in the way, your case is resolved by the Supreme Court in one-half the time.

Injured people suffer with intermediate courts. If you are financially strapped because you cannot work because some business owner ran over you with a company car, an intermediate court hurts you because of the delay. If you own that business, you get to keep your money that was awarded until the appeals are all over. If you delay the payment of the award by 16 months, the business owner clearly wins, and the injured party is financially ruined. Big businesses benefit, insurance companies benefit, but we taxpayers do not.

No one knows how much the intermediate court is going to cost. No one knows where these judges are going to sit, where they will hold court or how are we going to pay for it. Our Supreme Court said the cost would be $10 million. Nothing comes within the budget in this State. The Governor has asked our Legislators to sign a blank check to cover the costs of his intermediate court. I am urging you to just say “NO.” Call your Legislators and tell them “NO” on intermediate courts.

As you heard from the State of the State address, our Governor is telling everyone that we are swimming in money. I heard Oprah during that speech: “You get a car; you get a car; you get a car!!!” Yet, the Governor told us he was going to have to take money from the road bond to pay to fix the secondary roads. We are not swimming in money. Our poor people are starving. If you want to fix something, fix our abuse and neglect court problem. The delays in that system are destroying our families in this State. Anyone who has been a part of it knows what I am saying is the truth. At least then the money would go to good use, not as a gift to big business and insurance companies.

David A. Sims