CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Some West Virginia lawyers need to stop submitting sloppy, rambling and frivolous appeals, the state Supreme Court warned on Monday.
The state's high court issued an administrative order lamenting cut-and-paste jobs, legal briefs without legal citations and appeals with only "skeletal" arguments.
"There's a lot of lawyers that file a lot of good briefs, but we're just getting numerous briefs that you can't make heads or tails out of," Chief Justice Menis Ketchum said in a telephone interview.
Ketchum and court clerk Rory Perry wrote the court's 16-point, 1,100-word order released Monday.
Lawyers who fail to do a better job in the future can receive a warning and also risk having their cases thrown out altogether.
Ketchum was an accomplished Huntington trial lawyer before he joined the court. He said the court's five justices are wasting time trying to figure out what point lawyers are trying to make. That, in turn, is hurting the attorneys' clients.
The goal of the order was to get lawyers to give justices a "fighting to chance to know what you're talking about," Ketchum said.
There are two main problems.
"There are numerous appeals being filed where there is no reasonable basis for the appeal - in other words, there's a lot of frivolous appeals being filed," Ketchum said.
The court's frustration about this boiled over in a Nov. 15 opinion.
The court said appeals should not be filed unless a lawyer "believes in good faith that error has been committed" by a lower court.