We are in agreement with Harrison County's only family law master in wanting state voters to approve the Unified Family Court Amendment in the November General Election. The amendment would allow the state Legislature to create a single, more powerful judicial division designed to handle matters from divorces to adoptions.
Already with a full schedule, the responsibilities of Drew Crislip's job would certainly increase if the amendment passes. Still, he is supportive of the amendment and feels its passage would pave the way for a better family court system.
Although we are ever on the side of a more conservative justice system in West Virginia as well as the nation in general, we are certainly in favor of a more streamlined court system, whether it be for family law matters or criminal situations.
It was heartening to learn that both the West Virginia Judicial Association and the West Virginia Family Court Association recently approved resolutions endorsing passage of the amendment.
We feel this year's amendment will stand a better chance among the voters than a similar measure that they rejected in 1998. While it had as its goal some of the same things as this amendment, it was very general and would have given the Legislature broad authority, Crislip pointed out.
A more refined, more specific amendment would give legislators limited powers to establish a family court system. So it would not require the Legislature to take any action, only allow lawmakers to revamp the system.
That would relieve some of the circuit court's backlog, Crislip further explained. And to accomplish that would be just fine with us.