Appalachian Power Co. v. PSC – Case Brief Summary (West Virginia)

In Appalachian Power Co. v. PSC, 170 W.Va. 757, 759, 296 S.E.2d 887, 889 (1982), the Legislature had granted broad contempt powers to the Public Service Commission -- powers that were that were explicitly co-extensive with the contempt powers of a circuit court.

While the Court acknowledged the quasi-judicial character of the PSC, the Court held that the legislative action unconstitutionally usurped the traditional role of the judicial branch in the area of contempt.

The Court stated in Appalachian Power that "the traditional method of enforcing administrative agency subpoenas is for the agency to be empowered to apply to the courts if there is a refusal to respond to the subpoena." 170 W.Va. at 761 n.8, 296 S.E.2d at 890 n.8.