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State leaders praise appointments to new intermediate appellate court


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (West Virginia Record) Leaders from across West Virginia are praising the three appointees to the state’s new Intermediate Court of Appeals.

On December 28, Gov. Jim Justice appointed Thomas E. Scarr of Huntington for a term of two-and-a-half years, Daniel W. Greear of Charleston for a term of four-and-a-half years, and Donald A. Nickerson Jr. of Wheeling for a term of six-and-a-half years.

“This is an incredible step for our state that reflects the values of West Virginians and continues to make West Virginia more and more business friendly,” Justice said during Tuesday’s virtual announcement. “Throughout the years, I’ve always tried to champion judicial reform in West Virginia.

“I thank our legislators and everyone who has worked to make this historic day a reality and I congratulate our appointees.”

Senate Bill 275, which created the new court, was passed during this year’s legislative session. The three-member court begins work July 1.

The five justices of the state Supreme Court welcomed the three new judges.

The court “congratulates each of these well-qualified individuals on being selected,” Chief Justice Evan Jenkins said. “We are committed to working together to improve our justice system.”

Justice John Hutchison will become Chief Justice on January 1.

“I look forward to working closely with each of the new judges as we set up the operations of West Virginia’s first Intermediate Court of Appeals,” Hutchison said.

“The Intermediate Court of Appeals is a historic addition to the West Virginia Judiciary, and I congratulate the new judges appointed today,” Justice Beth Walker said. “We are all committed to making sure this new court, like every other court in our state, operates efficiently and is transparent and accessible to all.”

“Today’s appointments represent an important step in establishing an effective and productive Intermediate Court of Appeals,” Justice Tim Armstead said. “These new judges will bring many years of unique experience and expertise to the court. I look forward to joining with them as we continue our work together to establish the new appellate court. I welcome each of them to our state’s court system.”

“The appointees are all experienced attorneys and will be excellent additions to the West Virginia Judiciary,” Justice Bill Wooton said.

Legislative leaders praised the announcement as well.

“Today is an outstanding day for West Virginia’s legal system and another step forward in making our state the ideal place for job creators and families alike,” state Senate President Craig Blair (R-Berkeley) said. “The creation of an Intermediate Court of Appeals has been a goal of mine for several years, and I am excited to see it become a reality today.

“I thank Governor Justice for believing in our vision and working with us as we passed this bill. I also thank him for appointing our House of Delegates friend and colleague Dan Greear as one of the Court’s new judges. Dan’s experience, knowledge, and temperament make him an ideal person to serve the State of West Virginia in this new role.”

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw agreed.

“The House of Delegates has been proud to work with Gov. Jim Justice on a number of key legal reforms over the past several years, including the creation of the new Intermediate Court of Appeals to serve the State of West Virginia,” Hanshaw (R-Clay) said. “The House of Delegates, the Senate and the governor have worked together to respond to the challenges and opportunities for improvement in the state’s legal climate raised by some of our major employers and are happy to join together again today with the appointment of three distinguished legal professionals to serve as the founding judges of the West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals.

“On a personal note, I am particularly pleased Governor Justice appointed House Chief Counsel Dan Greear to serve among the judges of this new court. Dan is a proven jurist and has made tremendous contributions to the House of Delegates and the state of West Virginia during his service. I look forward to Dan’s many years of service as a jurist. While Dan’s new position will certainly be a loss for the House of Delegates, the state of West Virginia is the beneficiary of Governor Justice’s appointment of Dan to the Intermediate Court of Appeals.”

Other leaders chimed in as well:

Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce:

“I would like to wholeheartedly congratulate Thomas E. Scarr, Daniel W. Greear and Donald A. Nickerson Jr. on their appointment to this court. I have no doubt whatsoever that these three will work to interpret and apply the law in a fair manner to all parties who come before this appellate body

“I would be remiss if I did not give special thanks to Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump. Senator Trump has been a champion of an intermediate appellate court and this would not have occurred without his hard efforts. I would also like to give special thanks to Chief Justice Evan Jenkins and the rest of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. They have spent this entire year working to create the best intermediate court of appeals in the nation, and I am confident they have succeeded at that goal.

“Lastly, I want to thank Governor Justice. The governor was a big supporter of creating this court and has done an outstanding job in appointing highly qualified individuals who will work to bring more fairness, predictability and stability to the judiciary in West Virginia.”

Greg Thomas with West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse:

“Job creators and healthcare providers all around the state are excited to have an automatic right of appeal with the creation of the West Virginia Intermediate Appellate Court. The governor made three great choices with the initial Judges on the court.

“Dan Greear did an excellent job on the Kanawha County Circuit Court as a Judge. Don Nickerson has been an active member of his community in Wheeling for many years. Tom Scarr is a well-respected attorney in Huntington who stood up for fair courts all the way back in 2004 when we got rid of liberal Justice Warren McGraw from the state Supreme Court. Great job Legislature and Governor Justice.”

Rebecca McPhail, president of the West Virginia Manufacturers Association:

“Creation of the West Virginia Intermediate Appellate Court long has been a goal of ours, and we are excited to see that Governor Justice has named three judges who are known to be exceedingly fair and balanced.

“Having this new avenue for appellate proceedings means West Virginia will join the vast majority of states that have a special court to review decisions from trial courts and various administrative agencies. Having this mid-level appellate court ready to handle administration appeals means our Supreme Court will be able to focus on those issues of utmost importance in the legal system.”

Traci Nelson, president of the West Virginia Oil Marketers & Grocers Association:

“On behalf of our convenience store, independent grocer and petroleum marketer members, we appreciate the prudent appointments Governor Justice has made to the newly created Intermediate Court of Appeals. Thomas E. Scarr, Daniel W. Greear, and Donald A. Nickerson Jr. are well-respected and fair individuals and we look forward to the positive impact they and the newly created court will bring to West Virginia’s judicial system.”

West Virginia Hospital Association:

“The West Virginia Hospital Association applauds the Governor for his appointments to the newly established West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals. This Court will help guarantee a right of appeal and add stability and predictability to the law in West Virginia. As major employers in West Virginia, hospitals believe this Court will help create a rational, consistent, and stable body of law.

“The Governor’s appointees are esteemed and dedicated lawyers that will serve our state well.”

West Virginia Healthcare Association:

“The West Virginia Health Care Association applauds Gov. Justice on his judicial appointments today to the newly established Intermediate Court of Appeals. The establishment of an intermediate appeals court in West Virginia, and corresponding full and meaningful right to an appeal, has been a long-time coming in the Mountain State, and the West Virginia Health Care Association is pleased to see West Virginia one step closer to this reality.

“Governor Justice’s appointees are well-respected lawyers with decades of legal experience in West Virginia. They have dedicated their lives to practicing law before West Virginia’s various courts, bringing wide-ranging, valuable experience to the new appellate court. These appointments to the Intermediate Court of Appeals should give West Virginians confidence that the newly established court will soon hear appeals in a fair and open-minded manner while applying the laws of the state as written.>

“This is a great day for West Virginia as it works towards becoming the 46th state in the nation with an intermediate appeals court.”

Story by Chris Dickerson of West Virginia Record

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