State and Federal Courts in West Virginia
West Virginia Magistrate Courts
In West Virginia, there are 158 magistrates statewide, with at least two in every county. Magistrates issue arrest and search warrants, hear misdemeanor cases, conduct preliminary examinations in felony cases, and hear civil cases with $5,000 or less in dispute.
West Virginia Circuit Courts
West Virginia’s 55 counties are divided into 31 circuits with 66 circuit judges. The circuits range in size from one with seven judges to 11 with one judge. Although as few as one or as many as four counties comprise a circuit, each county has a courthouse where the circuit judge presides.
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
Decisions from West Virginia’s circuit courts are appealed to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, which is located in the state capitol building in Charleston. There are five justices on the court—Justice Brent Benjamin, Justice Robin Davis, Justice Menis Ketchum, Justice Allen Loughrey and Justice Margaret Workman. The position of chief justice is rotated annually among the justices; the chief justice in 2015 is Justice Workman.
West Virginia Family Courts
West Virginia Family Courts is a limited jurisdiction court. Family court judges hear cases involving divorce, annulment, separate maintenance, paternity, grandparent visitation, and issues involving allocation of parental responsibility and family support proceedings, except those incidental to child abuse and neglect proceedings. Decisions from family courts are appealed first to the circuit court.
The federal courts in West Virginia are divided into two districts.
United States District Court – Northern District of West Virginia
United States District Court – Southern District of West Virginia
Appeals from the federal district courts in West Virginia are heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia.
Appeals of Fourth Circuit appellate decisions are heard by the United States Supreme Court.
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