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Render Your Verdict: Voters get chance to select first elected judge to West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals

By Steven Allen Adams, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Voters will have a new office to vote for this year with the first seat on the new West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals on the ballot.

ICA Judge Thomas Scarr, one of three judges appointed by Gov. Jim Justice to the new court at the end of 2021, announced last year that he would not seek election to the seat, creating an opening in the May primary.

The Legislature created the ICA with Senate Bill 275 in April 2021 after years of attempts and after several recommendations over a 15-year period. The ICA is meant to help take the load off of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and allow the justices to focus on precedent-setting legal cases.

The ICA has its own chamber and offices in Charleston’s Kanawha City where Chief Judge Dan Greear and Judges Scarr and Charles Lorensen hear cases. The ICA also has five satellite courtrooms in Petersburg, Weston, Berkeley Springs, Beckley and New Martinsville, allowing attorneys to present oral arguments without the need to travel to Charleston.

The ICA hears noncriminal appeals of circuit court civil cases, family court cases, guardianships and conservatorships, administrative law judge decisions, final orders and decisions by the state Health Care Authority and decisions by the Office of Judges.

The intermediate court also replaces the Workers’ Compensation Office of Administrative Judges with a Workers’ Compensation Board of Review from where decisions can be appealed to the intermediate court. As of the end of the 2024 legislative session, appeals of Public Employee Grievance Board decisions and other administrative rulings can be heard by the ICA.

The state Supreme Court still has the ability to seek jurisdiction over civil cases appealed to the intermediate court. Parties in cases can also appeal directly to the Supreme Court, which could hear cases on its own discretion.

Judicial elections in West Virginia are nonpartisan, with the May primaries serving as the general election for judicial races. The ICA race includes three candidates: Mychal Schulz, an attorney with the Babst Calland law firm in Charleston with decades of appellate experience; Elgine McArdle, a Wheeling attorney and former chairwoman of the West Virginia Republican Party; and Ryan White, a Charleston-based attorney and lobbyist.

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