Courts Law West Virginia


The jurisdiction, power and function of the courts of West Virginia is enunciated in the Constitution of West Virginia and in the title 51 of the West Virginia code. As per the laws of the State the courts of West Virginia are of four levels and there may be specialized courts they are:

  1. Supreme Court Of Appeal
  2. Circuit court
  3. Magistrate Courts
  4. Municipal Courts
  5. Specialized courts like Family courts


Arguments before the Supreme Court of Appeals are presented by attorneys. Unlike trials in lower courts, there are no witnesses, juries, or testimony. After justices have heard oral arguments and reviewed attorneys' written materials, known as briefs, they issue written decisions, or opinions. Supreme Court of Appeals opinions can be appealed only to the Supreme Court of the United States which may or may not agree to consider an appeal.


The Supreme Court of appeals shall have original jurisdiction in cases of habeas corpus, mandamus and prohibition. It shall have appellate jurisdiction in civil cases where the matter,

  1. in controversy is of greater value or amount than one hundred dollars;
  2. in controversy concerning the title or boundaries of land,
  3. in controversy concerning the probate of wills, the appointment or qualification of a personal representative, guardian, committee or curator,
  4. in controversy concerning a mill, road, way, ferry or landing, or the right of a corporation or county to levy tolls or taxes;
  5. relating to writs of quo warranto, habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari and prohibition, and
  6. in cases involving freedom or the constitutionality of a law.

It shall have appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases where there has been a conviction for felony or misdemeanor in a circuit court, and where a conviction has been had in any inferior court and been affirmed in a circuit court, and in cases relating to the public revenue, the right of appeal shall belong to the state, as well as the defendant, and such other appellate jurisdiction, in both civil and criminal cases, as may be prescribed by law.

The workers' compensation appeals are unique, and are appealed directly to the Supreme Court from the administrative agency. The Supreme Court justices also hear appeals of decisions decided in family court if both parties agree that they will not appeal directly to the circuit court.



The circuit courts have the power to supervise and control of all proceedings before magistrates, by mandamus, prohibition and certiorari. They shall have original and general jurisdiction of all matters at law where the amount in controversy, exclusive of interest, exceeds three hundred dollars. It also has the jurisdiction over all cases of habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto and prohibition; of all cases in equity, including jurisdiction in equity to remove any cloud on the title to real property, or any part thereof, or any estate, right or interest therein, and to determine questions of title with respect thereto, without requiring allegations or proof of actual possession of the same; and of all crimes and misdemeanors.

The Circuit court has appellate jurisdiction in all cases, civil and criminal, where an appeal, writ of error or supersedeas may be allowed to the judgment or proceedings of any inferior tribunal. They shall also have such other jurisdiction, whether supervisory, original, appellate or concurrent, as is or may be prescribed by law.

The circuit courts receive appeals from magistrate court, municipal court, and administrative agencies, excluding workers' compensation appeals. The circuit courts also hear appeals of family court decisions unless both parties agree to appeal directly to the Supreme Court of Appeals. The circuit courts receive recommended orders from judicial officers who hear mental hygiene and juvenile matters. The Supreme Court of Appeals receives appeals of circuit court decisions


Magistrate courts have original jurisdiction in criminal matters as may be prescribed by law, but no person shall be convicted or sentenced for a felony in such courts. In criminal cases, the procedure may be by information or warrant of arrest, without presentment or indictment by a grand jury. The magistrate courts have original jurisdiction in all civil cases at law wherein the value or amount in controversy is not exceeding fifteen hundred dollars.


The jurisdiction of municipal courts is constitutionally limited to those cases involving ordinance violations. Municipal courts are administered locally. The Municipal courts have jurisdiction to enforce municipal ordinances, with the right of appeal as prescribed by law.


Family court hears 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. Family court also holds final hearings in domestic violence civil proceedings.