West Virginia's Supreme Court has taken an important step to improve the state's economic prospects by opening the new West Virginia Business Court Division headquarters, in Martinsburg.
As recently as 2011, the American Tort Reform Association included the state on its list of "judicial hellholes." The association prefaced its list, explaining traditionally such judicial systems "have been considered places where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally against defendants in civil lawsuits."
But the state Supreme Court hopes to restore a bit of balance by designing a court that will focus on the issues that arise from commercial litigation.
The new court will relieve circuit court judges of handling complex business disputes.
"The judges who serve in this division have special training in business law, so litigants will be assured of getting an expert hearing," said Justice Robin Jean Davis.
And the goal, according to Davis, will be for every case to be resolved within 10 months.
West Virginia 23rd Judicial Circuit Court Judge Christopher Wilkes will serve as chairman of the business court division. At the court's official opening last week, Wilkes said, "... we are growing in our diversity of businesses and individuals, and our legal skills and our judiciary.
State Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts has said he believes the court will improve the state's reputation in the business community. Employers looking at the broad range of benefits to putting down roots in West Virginia can now add the business court to the list.