New court would waste money
Small states with populations of less than two million people do not have intermediate courts because their populations and case loads do not justify the costs. West Virginia and eight other states have no intermediate court. We don’t want a useless experiment like North Dakota. In 1987 the North Dakota Legislature created that state’s intermediate court. In 33 years, that court heard a total of just 37 cases. It has not heard a single appeal since 2007.
In West Virginia, total appeals have declined by nearly 70 percent over the past 20 years, from 3,569 in 1999 to only 1,163 in 2019. Appeals in West Virginia have declined at a rate four times the national average.
The legislators who are demanding the intermediate court cite civil appeals, but those appeals comprise just 13.6 percent of the Supreme Court caseload. There were only 159 civil case appeals in 2019, down from 402 civil appeals in 2004, a decline of more than 60 percent.
Some mis-informed legislators also claim that an intermediate court is needed so that everyone can have a right to appeal. That is incorrect. An automatic right of appeal already exists in West Virginia.
In summary, an Intermediate Court will needlessly cost millions in tax dollars that would otherwise be spent to benefit all West Virginians.