The highest court in West Virginia is known as the Supreme Court of Appeals. West Virginia does not have a lower appellate court, so the Supreme Court must review decisions in trial courts directly. It holds the authority to interpret the West Virginia Constitution and settle matters of state law. The Court holds original jurisdiction over writs of mandamus, prohibition, habeas corpus, and certiorari.
Five justices sit on the Supreme Court, each of them serving a 12-year term. A candidate for this position must have practiced law for at least 10 years. West Virginia uses a system of non-partisan elections to choose justices. This means that voters elect a justice without being informed of their political affiliation on the ballot. If a vacancy arises, the Governor of West Virginia has the authority to appoint an interim justice. If they seek to retain their seat, that justice must run in the next general election after their appointment. The justices of the Supreme Court elect the Chief Justice to serve a four-year term. After a justice retires, they may seek senior status, which allows them to receive a temporary assignment as a justice. In the event that a justice cannot perform their duties, the Chief Justice may assign a circuit court judge as a substitute.
Controversy clouded the Supreme Court in 2018, when Governor Jim Justice started impeachment proceedings based on the alleged misuse of state funds by the justices. The charges against them related to renovations of the courthouse office, their use of state vehicles, and payments made to senior judges. However, none of the justices ultimately was impeached. One justice was censured, and three other justices resigned. An additional justice faced the threat of an impeachment trial, but this never occurred.