After inserting himself into DuPont Co.’s appeal of the $400 million verdict in the Spelter Smelter case, Gov. Joe Manchin announced tonight that the state Supreme Court is moving to address the issue of whether every ruling by a circuit court gets a full examination by the justices.
In his State of the State address, Manchin put it this way:
The Supreme Court has been studying this issue for the past several months, and I’m pleased to report that they have shared with me a proposal for major reform of the state’s appellate process.
Through their constitutional rule-making authority, the Supreme Court of Appeals will soon issue rules for public comment that are intended to ensure there will be full appellate review by the Court of all final decisions on the merits issued by the circuit courts in West Virginia.
UPDATED: The governor’s proposal is based at least in part on a recommendation from his Independent Commission on Judicial Reform. Their final report is available here.
Also, in the wake of the Don Blankenship-Spike Maynard-Brent Benjamin controversies (see here and here), Manchin announced that he would ask lawmakers to pass a bill for a public financing pilot project for the two Supreme Court seats that will be open for election in 2012. Said the governor:
The goal is to relieve judges from the burden of political fundraising and to reduce the potential for appearance of bias as a result of campaign donations.
This money would be available for both the primary and general elections.