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State business court will be located in Martinsburg



West Virginia’s first business court will be headquartered in Martinsburg, the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals recently announced.

The commercial litigation court, which will resolve business versus business disputes, will be housed in the Berkeley County Judicial Center.

Its grand opening, the state Supreme Court’s news release states, will be Oct. 10, which is the day the business court will take effect.

Why Berkeley County?

"The Eastern Panhandle is a growing area with a diverse population of citizens and businesses," West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Robin Jean Davis said in a news release.

The news release also noted the county is the second most-populous county in West Virginia.

"Locating the business court division here just makes sense," Davis said in the release. "The division has statewide jurisdiction, but it should be headquartered in an area of the state which is attracting business development."

State Supreme Court justices voted 5-0 to approve the new trial court rule establishing the business court. The new court is modeled after a rule that governs the mass litigation panel.

During a Sept. 11 news conference, Davis explained the goal is to provide a separate avenue for cases that can get bogged down in a circuit court docket.

The chief justice or any other judge can recommend a case to the business court, the news release explained.

Up to seven judges will serve seven-year staggered terms. Judges will serve on the court with no additional pay, the news release states.

Four judges have been appointed thus far.

Chief Justice Menis Ketchum appointed 11th Judicial Circuit Judge James Rowe (Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties)and 22nd Judicial Circuit Judge Donald Cookman (Hampshire, Hardy and Pendleton counties) to serve with 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes (Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties). Their terms will begin on Oct. 10.

James Young Jr, a 24th Judicial Circuit judge (Wayne County), will join these three judges starting Jan. 1, the news release states.

"The video conferencing technology the business court division will use will make the state small in regard to hearings and conferences. Although the headquarters will be in the Eastern Panhandle, we can hold virtual conferences throughout West Virginia with no costs." Wilkes said in the state Supreme Court news release.