The FRONT PAGE of each opinion indicates the Supreme Court case number, the style of the case (petitioner and respondent identities), the name of the judge and the county circuit court the case originated in, the lower court case number, and the decision of the Supreme Court.
AFFIRMED means the decision of the lower court is upheld.
REVERSED means the decision of the lower court is overturned.
DIRECTIONS means the opinion contains directions to a lower court on how to proceed based on the decision in the opinion.
SUBMITTED is the date the case was argued in front of the Justices (or was ready for decision if there was no oral argument).
FILED is the date the opinion was released by the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office.
ATTORNEY NAMES: The petitioners’ attorneys are listed on the left and the respondents’ attorneys on the right, unless otherwise indicated. Anyone desiring to speak to the attorneys can look up their contact information on the Membership Directory Search section of the West Virginia State Bar website, www.wvbar.org.
"Justice XXX delivered the Opinion of the Court" means that Justice wrote the opinion. If no other Justice is listed, it is a unanimous, or 5-0, decision. Any Justice listed as concurring agrees with the majority decision. For example, if one Justice is listed as delivering the opinion of the Court and two others are listed as concurring, it is a 5-0 decision.
Any Justice listed as dissenting disagrees with the majority decision. If one Justice is listed as dissenting, it is a 4-1 decision. If two are listed as dissenting, it is a 3-2 decision. A Justice can both concur in part and dissent in part to a particular opinion. The correct way to report such a decision would be to say, "Justice XXX wrote the Opinion. Justice (or (Justices) YYY concurred in part and dissented in part." If three Justices are in the majority, one dissents and one dissents in part and concurs in part, the correct way to report that is to say, “Justice XXX wrote the opinion. Justice YYY dissented. Justice ZZZ concurred in part and dissented in part.”
SYLLABUS POINTS are required by the Constitution and are a summary of the opinion. They are listed in an opinion in the order in which they appear in the opinion, not in order of importance.
Signed opinions containing original syllabus points have the highest precedential value because the Court uses original syllabus points to announce new points of law or to change established patterns of practice by the Court. Original syllabus points have no reference to syllabus points in previous opinions at the end.
Signed opinions that do not contain original syllabus points also carry significant, instructive, precedential weight because such opinions apply settled principles of law in different factual and procedural scenarios than those addressed in original syllabus point cases. These syllabus points are distinguishable because they reference to syllabus points in previous opinions at the end.
Signed opinions, both those including new syllabus points and those not containing new syllabus points, are published opinions of the Court. As such, they should be the primary sources relied upon in the development of the common law.
LAYOUT OF OPINIONS: There is a brief summary of the case and the Court’s decision, a section on the factual and procedural background, a section on the Standard of Review (the type of legal review the Supreme Court will apply to the case), a point-by-point discussion of the arguments on appeal, and a brief conclusion.