West Virginia Becomes the 42nd State with an Intermediate Appellate Court
July 7, 2022
By: Danielle M. Waltz and Jackie Gellner
On July 1st of 2022, West Virginia became the 42nd state with an intermediate appellate court. The reorganization came after years of consideration and was passed as a part of Senate Bill 275 in April of 2021. Prior to this, West Virginia had the largest population among states that did not have an appellate court.
The court includes a panel of three governor-appointed judges that will hear appeals from: (1) circuit courts regarding civil cases and guardianship/conservatorship; (2) family courts; (3) state agencies or admin law; and (4) decisions or orders from the Workers’ Compensation Office of Judges/Board of Review.
The West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) judges will serve staggered 10-year terms. Staggering the terms of the 3-judge panel means only one judicial term will expire at a time, two to four years apart from each other. Spreading out the term expirations avoids an entirely new court. Upon expiration, the position must be filled through a non-partisan election. In order to run for an ICA judge position, candidates must be a member of the WV Bar for a minimum of 10 years and must be a resident of the state for at least 5 years. Judges do not have term limits. This allows current and future ICA judges to run for re-election as long as all other qualifications are met.
The ICA is in the West Virginia Judicial Tower at 4700 MacCorkle Ave in Charleston, West Virginia. On top of having an option to appear in person, appellants have the option of appearing virtually via satellite courtrooms. The satellite courtrooms are scattered throughout the state in already existing courtrooms to make appeals more convenient and practical. Each site has all the technology set up to livestream the hearing with the panel of judges as if they are really in front of the appellant. The five sites are located in: Beckley, New Martinsville, Weston, Petersburg, and Berkeley Springs.
The Rules of Appellate Procedure have been amended to account for the structural changes to the West Virginia judicial system. But, for the most part, “the pleadings, practice, and procedure in all matters before the Intermediate Court of Appeals are governed by the rules promulgated by the Supreme Court of Appeals.” Additionally, each hold (simultaneous), regular terms of court bi-annually with the possibility of special terms and both appeal levels are to file with the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Appeals using E-Filing. Although the ICA mirrors the Supreme Court of Appeals in most respects, appellants are still encouraged to review the changes before filing an appeal.
The Supreme Court of West Virginia may still gain jurisdiction over any civil action that is appealed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals. Parties may file a direct appeal to the Supreme Court, or, under the Court’s discretion, it may grant the review if the appeal includes a “question of fundamental public importance” and involves urgencies.
Meet the judges:
Judge Daniel W. Greear: Judge Greear is from Kanawha County and has spent his career serving his home state. Directly prior to his appointment, he served as chief counsel for the West Virginia House of Delegates, where he has previously served as Chief of Staff and a Delegate. Additionally, he brings experience from the Kanawha County Circuit Court bench, the West Virginia Attorney General’s office, and KKB, LLC, as a civil litigation attorney. Judge Greear is a 1992 West Virginia University College of Law graduate and his appointed term on the intermediate court of appeals ends on December 31, 2026.
Judge Charles Lorensen: Judge Lorensen has a strong background in tax and has served under the West Virginia Department of Revenue and as the State Tax Commissioner. He also brings practical experience from three different law firms and has in-house counsel experience with a healthcare company. Judge Lorensen has also served as Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s Chief of Staff, Chairman of the West Virginia Investment Management Board, committee counsel at the West Virginia Senate, and he has even been an adjunct lecturer at his alma mater of West Virginia University College of Law. His appointed term on the ICA ends on December 31, 2028.
Judge Thomas E. Scarr: Judge Scarr has practiced law in West Virginia since 1980, when he was a summer clerk at a Charleston law firm. Prior to his appointment, he had a lengthy career as an attorney including experience in civil litigation, labor & employment law, and white-collar criminal defense. Additionally, Judge Scarr has served as president of the West Virginia State Bar. His appointed term ends on December 31, 2024.
More information about the West Virginia ICA can be found on the official West Virginia Judiciary website including:
 Eric Douglas, New W. Va. Appellate Court Begins Work, W. Va. Pub. Broad. (July 6, 2022, 9:33 AM) https://www.wvpublic.org/government/2022-07-05/new-w-va-appellate-court-begins-work [hereinafter Douglas Article].
 S. 275, 2021, Reg. Sess. (W. Va. 2021).
 U.S. and World Population Clock, https://www.census.gov/popclock/ (last visited July 7, 2022) (Delaware, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming are the only remaining states that do not have an intermediate appellate court).
 W. Va. Code § 51-11-4; W. Va. R. App. P. 1.
 W. Va. Code § 51-11-6.
 Jeff Jenkins, New Intermediate Court of Appeals readies for first cases, WV Metro News (June 30, 2022), https://wvmetronews.com/2022/06/30/new-intermediate-court-of-appeals-readies-for-first-cases/ [hereinafter Jenkins Article].
 Id.; see also W. Va. Code § 51-11-8(c)(1).
 Douglas Article, supra note 1.
 Jenkins Article, supra note 7 (found in Raleigh, Lewis, Grant, Morgan, and Wetzel counties).
 W. Va. Code § 51-11-7(a).
 W. Va. Code § 51-11-7(b).
 W. Va. Code § 51-11-10.
 W. Va. Code § 51-11-5.