I first met Eydie Nash Gaiser in September, 2017 when the West Virginia Supreme Court came to Wheeling as part of its LAWS program. I took a group of homeschoolers to watch oral arguments. When the arguments were over, the Justices and staff joined us for a meal. Eydie was Deputy Clerk at the time, and I had worked with Eydie to make arrangements for our homeschoolers to be a part of this special event. Eydie sat at our table, shared stories, and spoke encouragingly to the teens who came with me. It was a wonderful experience that our homeschoolers will always remember.
Just a few months later, Eydie was promoted to the Clerk’s position, and she has been leading the Clerk’s office for nearly two years. I had the opportunity to catch up with Eydie in a telephone interview earlier this month.
Eydie says she’s an introvert, but that certainly hasn’t prevented her from engaging effectively with the public or from building professional relationships. In fact, she is set to become President of the National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks at their annual meeting in 2020. The national organization provides education and support for appellate court clerks throughout the country. Eydie is excited about the prospect of leading the organization and hopes to promote the idea of wellness--and idea inspired by Chief Justice Walker’s wellness initiative for West Virginia attorneys.
I asked Eydie about the e-filing pilot project that is currently underway in a few of West Virginia’s counties. We didn’t get into specifics, but she did say that Chief Justice Walker is very supportive of statewide e-filing. The Chief, in fact, is running a completely paperless chambers: “Whenever we go into conference and there are thick notebooks that everyone is given, hers is all on her iPad and she doesn’t have any paper that she works with.” The Clerk’s office is already scanning all incoming documents and adding them directly to the Court’s case management system. In addition, Eydie is mapping out a strategy for the office to gradually transition to a paperless format. My takeaway is that e-filing is coming soon. It’s just a matter of working out any remaining bugs and planning for a smooth transition.
We also discussed court rules. Whenever the Court is considering an amendment to its rules, it always requests public comment. Unfortunately, many attorneys don’t take the time to read the draft rules or participate in the public court process. Eydie pointed out that requests for public comment are always available on the Court’s website. All bar-related materials appear under the tab “Legal Community.” Click on “Court Rules” and you’ll see a tab marked “Requests For Public Comment.” Don’t get caught flat footed by changes in the rules. Read the text for yourself on the website. If you have questions, concerns, or specific criticisms, take the time to write a comment.
The last thing we discussed was pitfalls: what should lawyers do, or avoid doing, if they want to be successful in the high court? Eydie mentioned two specific things that ring true to me. First, she said that the Rules of Appellate Procedure (specifically Rule 10) provide the outline that briefs are supposed to follow. Eydie lamented: “Sometimes I wonder if lawyers ever read that.” Do yourself a favor. Read it and follow it! Eydie also drew attention to the summary of argument, a section of the brief that’s required under Rule 10. Eydie told me that it is “very important and you can really use that to your advantage. And I heard at least one of the justices say that when they get a case, the first thing they go is the summary of the argument.” Every part of the brief is important. Don’t just provide a weak rehash of your argument in the summary. Give it some thought. Write a summary that would make a short, compelling “elevator pitch” that captures what you want to say.
I know that Eydie and her staff are working hard to provide good, timely service to attorneys, and they've greatly increased their accessibility with their website. I look forward to what they can accomplish in the coming years. Best of luck to Eydie, not only in her current position but also when she takes the reins of the national organization!