Last week, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals unveiled its much-anticipated revisions to the Rules of Appellate Procedure, and in the process announced ten seminars – open to the public – detailing the proposed rule changes. A list of those meetings and additional information about the proposed rules can be found in the Supreme Court of Appeals’ press release on the matter here:

While many things about these proposed rules are groundbreaking, including the issuance of decisions on the merits on every appeal as an alternative to the creation of a statewide intermediate appellate court – something debated heartily in the Mountain State the last several years – one proposed change is particularly noteworthy for employment practitioners in West Virginia.

A new Rule 15 would be created, which would be a separate Rule of Appellate Procedure governing appeals to the Supreme Court from final orders of the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, and from final orders of the Kanawha County Circuit Court after an appeal of a West Virginia Human Rights Commission order. According to the Clerk’s comments at the end of the proposed Rule, the intent of new proposed Rule 15 is to create a unified process for human rights appeals under the applicable West Virginia Code provisions. Most importantly, the new proposed rule does not require that a party wishing to challenge either type of final order to file a Notice of Appeal (as with other appeals) and instead allows for the appeal to be accomplished by simply filing an appeal brief and an appendix to go with it.

While other proposed new rules deal with specialized appellate practice in family law matters, abuse and neglect cases, and workers’ compensation proceedings, those procedures are already covered in some form or another in the current Rules of Appellate Procedure. Only new proposed rule 15 and new proposed rule 14 governing Public Service Commission appeals carve out an entirely separate new procedural rule for appeals of a particular subject matter to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. The decision to propose such a rule by the State’s Supreme Court indicates how specialized and important Human Rights Act practice has become in West Virginia.

The period for submitting public comments in response to the proposed rules concludes on July 19, 2010. The Court ultimately anticipates the new rules will become effective on December 1, 2010.

Jim Wright concentrates his practice in the area of complex and commercial litigation, particularly in the areas of energy, labor and employment and construction law as well as other business matters. He has also represented professionals before state licensure boards. During his career, he has tried numerous cases in state and federal courts throughout West Virginia and Ohio. He has also argued cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and various appellate courts in the State of Ohio. Jim is a also a recognized leader in the profession, having served as a member of the West Virginia State Bar Board of Governors and currently serving as the State Bar’s Vice President.
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» Read the full biography of James C. Wright at Steptoe & Johnson

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