CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s Senate approved a bill Monday to create a new intermediate court system.
The bill that passed on an 18-14 vote now goes to the House of Delegates. The Legislature has made numerous attempts in past sessions to approve similar legislation without success.
Nine states currently have no intermediate court system.
Morgan County Republican Sen. Charles Trump said the new court would expedite cases and relieve the caseloads of overburdened circuit judges.
Several Democrats said the court would be wasteful spending and add another layer of government in a time of a tight state budget. They argued the money is better spent in areas such as relieving an overburdened foster care system, helping senior citizens, or establishing drug and family courts or a court for abuse and neglect cases.
Opponents cited statistics that the Supreme Court’s caseloads have dropped significantly over the past two years.
The new court would hear appeals of civil judgments from circuit courts as well as decisions from family courts and workers compensation rulings. It would not hear criminal cases.
The bill would create a northern and southern district with three judges in each. The judges would be appointed initially on a nonpartisan basis to serve a one-year term before elections for 10-year terms would be held in 2022.
It is estimated to cost $7.6 million to establish the court in the first year and $4 million annually after that.