CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Robin Davis has seen much change in her 17 years as a West Virginia Supreme Court justice.
Under her leadership, she's seen the establishment of the new rules of appellate procedure and the establishment of the mass litigation panel, among other initiatives.
Now, as she once again takes on her role as chief justice -- a role she's served five times before -- she looks to carry out her previous initiatives and is looking forward to the court's future.
The role of chief justice is an annually rotating position and one that Justice Margaret Workman will take over in 2015. Davis explained the chief is in charge of day-to-day administration of the court. The chief justice also makes case assignments if a justice is disqualified and appoints a justice to take over.
However, the chief's role in West Virginia is different than other states, Davis said.
"For example, many other courts, their chief has a lot more individual power than the chief of the West Virginia Supreme Court," she said, noting the role in West Virginia is a more inclusive one.
The chief justice also picks themes to focus on they can continue these special projects even when they no longer are in the position.
Although Davis said there are no new projects on the horizon, she plans to keep track of her current projects.
One of Davis's special projects involves truancy, and has decreased the number of truant students, she says.
She also has worked on workers' compensation mediation program, rules on mass litigation and the establishment of an online abuse and neglect database.
Yet, one of the projects of which she is most proud is the new rules of appellate procedure. The court approved these rules in 2010 and since that time, justices have been issuing a decision in every case -- at the very least, a memorandum decision, or an abbreviated decision on the merits.
"We had not made any changes to the appellate court rules for almost 30 years and they were antiquated," Davis said. "And so there was this concept out there, the thinking that we were not reviewing every petition or ruling on every petition because when we would for example refuse it, we would do it in a very short order that just said refused petition and gave no reason why we were doing so. The revised appellate court rules have added a tremendous amount of transparency to the appeal progress."
This also meant an increase in the amount of decisions issued. So far, the court has issued 1,367 decisions, making this year the busiest ever in terms of issued decisions.
"So, that has increased our workload but I will tell you our court is not complaining one bit about the additional work," Davis said. "It's a tremendous change in a good way for our judicial system and the state of West Virginia. We are rolling up our sleeves and getting the work done.