West Virginia Court Records

Why West Virginia Court Records are Available to the Public

In 1992, the West Virginia State Legislature pass a law named the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act. This law was enables  the last changes in 2001 and aims to make sure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public.

What Court Records Access Means To You?

The law is similar to the  West Virginia Open Meeting Law which legislates the methods by which public meetings are held. The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act intent is that all records maintained by state and local government entities be available for public access and copying.

Accountability to the Public

When the legislature enacted West Virginia Freedom of Information Act, it expressively declared that access to information about the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state, §29B-1-1. Declaration of policy. Indeed, in West Virginia access to the government and court records in particular, a fundamental interest in citizenship and has emphasized that maxim disclosure of the conduct of governmental operations   act.

By promoting prompt public access to government records, the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act is to safeguard the government's accountability to the public.

How the West Virginia Court Process Functions?

Most cases in West Virginia courts begin in one of the 55 superior or trial courts in  the state’s 55 counties.

The next level of judicial authority resides with the Court of Appeals. Most cases before the Court of Appeals involves the review of a superior court decision being contested by a party involved in the case.

The Supreme Court of Appeal serves as the highest court in the state and has discretion to check decisions of the Court of Appeals to settle important questions of law and to resolve conflicts among the Court of Appeals.

Some differences between Civil Court and Small Claims Court below

 Court

Small Claims

Civil

Appeal

Only the party who was sued can file an appeal. The person who filed the claim cannot appeal.

Either party can appeal.

Attorney Representation

You cannot have a lawyer file your papers or go to court with you – except for an appeal.

You can have a lawyer file your papers and go to court for you.

Filing fee for either defendant or plaintiff’s claim

$30 -$100 per claim

$180 - $320 per claim

Pretrial Discovery allowed

No

Yes

How long to complete your case

30-70 days after the complaint

120 days after you file the complaint

You do not need a U.S. citizenship to file or defend a case in Small Claims Court. If you do not speak English well, bring someone who speaks English and ask the judge if that person can serve as your interpreter. The court cannot offer you an interpreter.

You can find an interpreter by using the West Virginia Courts Interpreter Search page. Also see the webpage with interpreter information on this website Foreign Language Interpreter/Translator.

How West Virginia Court Records Are Structured?

The court records group is for civil and small claims matters.

Civil cases are matters where the petitioner is seeking more than $200,000. Close to 175,000 civil court records filed with the courts annually. Civil cases also include other types of disputes that do not involve money, like cases to resolve (or “quiet”) title to real property, cases asking for civil restraining orders and requests to change your name or your child’s name.

Small Claims Court filings are cases where the petitioner is seeking $5,000 or less and is not represented by counsel. Close to 150,000 of small claims cases filed statewide every year.

Here are some examples of common Small Claims Court cases:

  • Your former landlord refuses to return the security deposit you paid.
  • Someone dents your fender and refuses to pay for the repairs.
  • Your new TV does not work, and the store will not fix it.
  • Your tenant caused damage to the apartment, and the repairs cost more than their security deposit (Note: You cannot use small claims court to evict someone.).
  • You lent money to a friend, and he/she refuses to pay you back.
  • Small Claims Court can also order a defendant to do something, as long as the claim is also asking for money. For example, the court can cancel a contract or the court can order your neighbor to pay you for your lawn mower or order them to return it to you right away.
West Virginia State Archives

State Archives

Results Include

Full State Record Report:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Case Number
  • Case Summary
  • Docket
  • Police Report
  • Court Documents
  • Legal Records
  • Case File
  • Statements
  • Transcripts
  • Legal Forms
  • Case Notes
  • Disposition
  • Trial Records
  • Arbitration
  • Case Evidence
  • Witnesses
  • Interviews
  • Descriptions
  • Mugshots
  • Charges
  • Legal Motions
  • Attorney Records
  • Prosecution Records
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals 1863 - 1872

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals 1863 - 1872

  • State archives hold over 50,000 cubic feet of records.
  • There are 2 levels of courts – trial and appellate.
  • The West Virginia Circuit Courts are the West Virginia state trial courts of genral jurisdiction. They are the only state trial courts in West Virginia that are courts of record.
  • The 55 counties of West Virginia are divided into 31 circuits, each comprising anywhere from one to four counties. So there are 31 Circuit Courts in West Virginia.
  • The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia is the state supreme court of the state of West Virginia, the highest of West Virginia's state courts.
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