Yesterday was the first day for arguments before the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia under the Revised Rules of Appellate Procedure that went into effect on December 1, 2010. The revised rules govern appeals from final judgments entered by a circuit court on or after December 1, 2010 and petitions for extraordinary relief filed with the Supreme Court on or after December 1, 2010.

If you look at the Court’s docket, you will see some of the changes effected by the revised rules. First, the Court now indicates whether an appeal is argued under Rule 19 (appeals that involve, for example, an allegation that the trial court abused its discretion or erred in applying settled law) or Rule 20 (appeals that involve, for example, cases of first impression or cases involving questions of public policy).

Next, appeals are allotted amounts of time, typically 10 minutes per side for Rule 19 appeals and 20 minutes per side for Rule 20 appeals. Under the prior rules, arguments in specific appeals had no set duration. Arguments began at a specified time – usually 10 a.m. – and continued until the Court finished its docket that day.

Finally, there are no more motion dockets, i.e., the Court no longer hears oral presentations of petitions for appeal. Under the revised rules, the Court reviews the parties’ briefs, then determines which appeals to hear and schedules them for argument.

In addition to its other materials, the Clerk’s office has also posted this guide to preparing an appeal from a circuit court order using the revised rules, which will be the most common type of appellate proceeding for most practitioners. A sample petitioner’s brief is also provided.