West Virginia’s Circuit Courts are the highest trial courts in the state and the courts of general jurisdiction, meaning they can hear both civil and criminal cases of all types. West Virginia has 31 Circuit Courts and 75 judges presiding over those courts. Circuit Courts are courts of record.
The types of cases heard in Circuit Courts are tort cases, real property cases of more than $7,500 (with no maximum), domestic relations cases, misdemeanors, felonies, and juvenile cases. These courts also have exclusive domain over probate/estate cases including wills, trusts, guardianships and conservatorships, civil appeals, and mental health cases. Most civil cases in Circuit Courts involve property rather than criminal offenses. These cases also hear appeals from Magistrate Courts and administrative agencies except for workers’ compensation appeals— those go directly to the Supreme Court.
West Virginia has 55 counties which are split into 31 judicial circuits. The West Virginia Judiciary website has a map of each district and the Circuit Courts within each. Each circuit can have a varying number of judges; some have only one judge, and others have up to seven.
Circuit court judges are elected in non-partisan elections, and they serve eight-year terms. To qualify to be a Circuit Court judge, the person must practice law for at least five years prior. When there is a vacancy, the Governor appoints someone to fill the seat until the next election.
The West Virginia Judiciary website has an area that includes forms for common types of cases. Additionally, they offer an e-filing option and other publications and resources for patrons of the court.
On average, Circuit Courts see about 46,667 cases every year. Of that total, roughly 9,000 are for juvenile cases, 25,200 are for civil cases, and 12,500 are for criminal offenses.