84. Our HOA is confused about which court to choose for delinquent assessments – magistrate or civil?

Some HOAs prefer magistrate court and may be successful, while attorneys representing an HOA will use a civil court.  An HOA is not a person and must be represented somehow, that’s when attorneys enter into the situation. Don’t forget when a case involves real property, you must file in the county where the property is physically located.

MAGISTRATE COURTS: magistrate courts, which handle small claims is where most court cases are heard. Because magistrates have the most contact with the public, they are known as the “people’s court.”

There are 158 magistrates in West Virginia, at least two in every county and ten in the most populous county, Kanawha County. They hear misdemeanor cases, conduct preliminary examinations in felony cases and hear civil arguments with $5,000 or less in dispute. Cases lost in magistrate court can be appealed to circuit court.

There are thirty-one circuit courts in West Virginia with a total of seventy circuit judges. Circuit courts are West Virginia’s only general jurisdiction trial courts of record. They have jurisdiction over all civil cases totaling more than $300. Civil cases usually involve private property rights, not criminal activity.

cases for each county in West Virginia, in the year of 2015

Courtesy West Virginia Judiciary