W.Va. Burns as 'Judicial Hellhole'

West Virginia State Journal
Thursday, December 14, 2006

Every year, the drum beat from civil justice reform advocates in West Virginia gets louder when the American Tort Reform Association releases its annual "judicial hellhole" report.
The Mountain State is the only statewide district that makes the list every year. And this year those drums have reached a cacophony because West Virginia now is ATRA's No. 1 judicial hellhole in the country.
"Named in every Judicial Hellhole report, West Virginia is known for its cozy relationship between plaintiffs' lawyers, judges and the attorney general," the report states.
But not everyone buys the "hellhole" moniker.

The Center for Justice & Democracy also criticized the report, calling it an attack on judges that is "vicious and undemocratic, not to mention dishonest and ungrounded."
Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, said he sees things quite differently. Despite many changes made during the past few years, West Virginia remains behind the curve when it comes to operating a fair and efficient legal system.
"West Virginia's lawsuit climate is well known," Roberts said. "We hear about it most from our own members -- the cost of defense and other issues related to lawsuit abuse in West Virginia.
"... At a recent chamber board meeting, someone said, 'If we were just average, we would be fine,' regarding our legal climate," Roberts said. "This is a major problem that needs to be solved."

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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