FISCAL NOTE

Date Requested: January 30, 2018
Time Requested: 11:55 AM
Agency: Supreme Court of Appeals
CBD Number: Version: Bill Number: Resolution Number:
1958 Draft - Comm. Sub. SB341
CBD Subject: Courts


FUND(S):

General Revenue Fund

Sources of Revenue:

General Fund

Legislation creates:

Increases Existing Expenses



Fiscal Note Summary


Effect this measure will have on costs and revenues of state government.


    The proposed intermediate appellate court will impose substantial costs upon the taxpayers. We estimate that a fully functioning intermediate appellate court would cost approximately $11.7 million the first year and approximately $10.3 million each year thereafter (in 2018 dollars).



Fiscal Note Detail


Effect of Proposal Fiscal Year
2018
Increase/Decrease
(use"-")
2019
Increase/Decrease
(use"-")
Fiscal Year
(Upon Full
Implementation)
1. Estmated Total Cost 11,708,200 10,298,600 10,298,600
Personal Services 8,769,600 8,769,600 8,769,600
Current Expenses 2,938,600 1,529,000 1,529,000
Repairs and Alterations 0 0 0
Assets 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0
2. Estimated Total Revenues 0 0 0


Explanation of above estimates (including long-range effect):


    As mentioned above, the projected cost of the bill is $11.7 million the first year and $10.3 million each year thereafter.
    
    The personal services cost includes 92 additional personnel (46 Judges and Judge-service staff, including law clerks, security staff, and clerical staff; 18 Clerk's Office employees; 20 staff members in Chief Counsel's office to screen and prepare cases; and 8 employees in the Administrative Office to support these employees and the court).
    
    The additional costs set forth in this note include the costs of setting up a physical courtroom in each district with appropriate furnishings and security. While the bill allows the contemplated court to travel and "borrow" courtroom space from various other government entities, two significant problems exist with this approach. First, there are quite likely insufficient facilities available with appropriate courtrooms to lend. Any courtroom would have to have sufficient security protocols, sufficient technology amenities, be ADA compliant for litigants, have appropriate space for a three-judge panel, have appropriate space for other court service personnel to use (law clerks, etc.), and have a sufficient gravitas to allow litigants to understand the importance of the court and of the proceedings. Second, the costs of a traveling court would, while similar in year one, be much more expensive in following years. We estimate that the cost of a traveling court, including hotel stays for judges and travelling personnel (law clerks, security), mileage, and per diem meal costs, would cost approximately $728,200 per year, each year of the court's operation.
    
    Recurrent annual costs of the court include office space for the headquarters of judges and their personnel, a local Clerk's office in each district, appropriate storage space for court records and equipment, general office supplies and equipment, educational travel and training, software licensing fees, legal research costs, and guardian ad litem fees.
    
    
    These estimates leave out certain additional costs. For example, habeas corpus cases are civil in nature and would presumably be required to go through the intermediate court, imposing additional costs to the State in the form of Attorney General representation and appointed counsel for the prosecuting petitioners. We estimate that a traveling court would, given the number of state employees driving on state business, cause the court system’s BRIM premiums to expand considerably.
    
    The abolition of the workers’ compensation appeal board as an available layer of review will reduce costs to the State overall. However, that board is not a judicial branch agency, and we are unaware as to the annual costs of operating the board.
    



Memorandum


    The costs described herein are only those borne by the State. Substantial additional costs upon lawyers and litigants in the form of additional delay, additional lawyer fees, and additional fees and costs will be imposed by adding an additional layer of appeal. Given that the Supreme Court of Appeals now offers an appeal to all who request it and provides a written decision in every case, and does so with minimal delay, it would seem that the benefits of the bill are outweighed by its substantial costs.



    Person submitting Fiscal Note: Gary L. Johnson
    Email Address: gary.johnson@courtswv.gov