Article VIII, West Virginia Constitution

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West Virginia Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIV
Article VIII of the West Virginia Constitution consists of 16 sections.

Section 1

Text of Section 1:

Judicial Power

The judicial power of the state shall be vested solely in a supreme court of appeals and in the circuit courts, and in such intermediate appellate courts and magistrate courts as shall be hereafter established by the Legislature, and in the justices, judges and magistrates of such courts.[1]

Section 2

Text of Section 2:

Supreme Court of Appeals

The supreme court of appeals shall consist of five justices. A majority of the justices of the court shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

The justices shall be elected by the voters of the state for a term of twelve years, unless sooner removed or retired as authorized in this article. The Legislature may prescribe by law whether the election of such justices is to be on a partisan or nonpartisan basis.

Provision shall be made by rules of the supreme court of appeals for the selection of a member of the court to serve as chief justice thereof. If the chief justice is temporarily disqualified or unable to serve, one of the justices of the court designated in accordance with the rules of the court shall serve temporarily in his stead.

When any justice is temporarily disqualified or unable to serve, the chief justice may assign a judge of a circuit court or of an intermediate appellate court to serve from time to time in his stead.[1]

Section 3

Text of Section 3:

Supreme Court of Appeals; Jurisdiction and Powers; Officers and Employees; Terms

The supreme court of appeals shall have original jurisdiction of proceedings in habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition and certiorari.

The court shall have appellate jurisdiction in civil cases at law where the matter in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs, is of greater value or amount than three hundred dollars unless such value or amount is increased by the Legislature; in civil cases in equity; in controversies concerning the title or boundaries of land; in proceedings in quo warranto, habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition and certiorari; and in cases involving personal freedom or the constitutionality of a law. It shall have appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases, where there has been a conviction for a felony or misdemeanor in a circuit court, and such appellate jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by law where there has been such a conviction in any other court. In criminal proceedings relating to the public revenue, the right of appeal shall belong to the state as well as to the defendant. It shall have such other appellate jurisdiction, in both civil and criminal cases, as may be prescribed by law.

The court shall have power to promulgate rules for all cases and proceedings, civil and criminal, for all of the courts of the state relating to writs, warrants, process, practice and procedure, which shall have the force and effect of law.

The court shall have general supervisory control over all intermediate appellate courts, circuit courts and magistrate courts. The chief justice shall be the administrative head of all the courts. He may assign a judge from one intermediate appellate court to another, from one circuit court to another, or from one magistrate court to another, for temporary service. The court shall appoint an administrative director to serve at its pleasure at a salary to be fixed by the court. The administrative director shall, under the direction of the chief justice, prepare and submit a budget for the court.

The officers and employees of the supreme court of appeals, including the clerk and the law librarian, shall be appointed and may be removed by the court. Their duties and compensation shall be prescribed by the court.

The number, times and places of the terms of the supreme court of appeals shall be prescribed by law. There shall be at least two terms of the court held annually.[1]

Section 4

Text of Section 4:

Writ of Error, Supersedeas and Appeals; Scope and Form of Decisions

A writ of error, supersedeas or appeal shall be allowed by the supreme court of appeals, or a justice thereof, only upon a petition assigning error in the judgment or proceedings of a court and then only after the court, or a justice thereof, shall have examined and considered the record and is satisfied that there probably is error in the record, or that it presents a point proper for the consideration of the court.

No decision rendered by the court shall be considered as binding authority upon any court, except in the particular case decided, unless a majority of the justices of the court concur in such decision.

When a judgment or order of another court is reversed, modified or affirmed by the court, every point fairly arising upon the record shall be considered and decided; the reasons therefore shall be concisely stated in writing and preserved with the record; and it shall be the duty of the court to prepare a syllabus of the points adjudicated in each case in which an opinion is written and in which a majority of the justices thereof concurred, which shall be prefixed to the published report of the case.[1]

Section 5

Text of Section 5:

Circuit Courts

The judge or judges of each circuit court shall be elected by the voters of the circuit for a term of eight years, unless sooner removed or retired as authorized in this article. The Legislature may prescribe by law whether the election of such judges is to be on a partisan or nonpartisan basis. Upon the effective date of this article, each statutory court of record of limited jurisdiction existing in the state immediately prior to such effective date shall become part of the circuit court for the circuit in which it presently exists, and each such judge of such statutory court of record of limited jurisdiction shall thereupon become a judge of such circuit court. During his continuance in office, a judge of a circuit court shall reside in the circuit of which he is a judge.

The Legislature may increase, or other than during term of office decrease, the number of circuit judges within any circuit. The judicial circuits in existence on the effective date of this article shall remain as so constituted until changed by law, and the Legislature, at any session thereof held in the odd-numbered year next preceding the time for the full-term election of the judges thereof, may rearrange the circuits and may increase or diminish the number of circuits. A judge of a circuit court in office at the time of any such change shall continue as a judge of the circuit in which he shall continue to reside after such change until his term shall expire, unless sooner removed or retired as authorized in this article.

There shall be at least one judge for each circuit court and as many more as may be necessary to transact the business of such court. If there be two or more judges of a circuit court, provision shall be made by rules of such circuit court for the selection of one of such judges to serve as chief judge thereof. If the chief judge is temporarily disqualified or unable to serve, one of the judges of the circuit court designated in accordance with the rules of such court shall serve temporarily in his stead.

The supreme court of appeals shall provide for dividing the business of those circuits in which there shall be more than one judge between the judges thereof so as to promote and secure the convenient and expeditious transaction of such business.

In every county in the state the circuit court for such county shall sit at least three times in each year. The supreme court of appeals shall designate the times at which each circuit court shall sit, but until this action is taken by the supreme court of appeals, each circuit court shall sit at the times prescribed by law. If there be two or more judges of a circuit court, such judges may hold court in the same county or in different counties within the circuit at the same time or at different times.[1]

Section 6

Text of Section 6:

Circuit Court; Jurisdiction, Authority and Power

Circuit courts shall have control of all proceedings before magistrate courts by mandamus, prohibition and certiorari.

Circuit courts shall have original and general jurisdiction of all civil cases at law where the value or amount in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs, exceeds one hundred dollars unless such value or amount is increased by the Legislature; of all civil cases in equity; of proceedings in habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, prohibition and certiorari; and of all crimes and misdemeanors. On and after January one, one thousand nine hundred seventy-six, the Legislature may provide that all matters of probate, the appointment and qualification of personal representatives, guardians, committees and curators, and the settlements of their accounts, shall be vested exclusively in circuit courts or their officers, but until such time as the Legislature provides otherwise, jurisdiction in such matters shall remain in the county commissions or tribunals existing in lieu thereof or the officers of such county commissions or tribunals.

Circuit courts shall have appellate jurisdiction in all cases, civil and criminal, where an appeal, writ of error or supersedeas is allowed by law to the judgment or proceedings of any magistrate court, unless such jurisdiction is conferred by law exclusively upon an intermediate appellate court or the supreme court of appeals.

Circuit courts shall also have such other jurisdiction, authority or power, original or appellate or concurrent, as may be prescribed by law.

Subject to the approval of the supreme court of appeals, each circuit court shall have the authority and power to establish local rules to govern the court.

Subject to the supervisory control of the supreme court of appeals, each circuit court shall have general supervisory control over all magistrate courts in the circuit. Under the direction of the chief justice of the supreme court of appeals, the judge of the circuit court, or the chief judge thereof if there be more than one judge of the circuit court, shall be the administrative head of the circuit court and all magistrate courts in the circuit.[1]

Section 7

Text of Section 7:

General Provisions Relating to Justices, Judges, and Magistrates

All justices, judges and magistrates must be residents of this state and shall be commissioned by the governor. No person may hereafter be elected as a justice of the supreme court of appeals unless he has been admitted to practice law for at least ten years prior to his election, and no person may hereafter be elected as a judge of a circuit court unless he has been admitted to practice law for at least five years prior to his election.

Justices, judges and magistrates shall receive the salaries fixed by law, which shall be paid entirely out of the state treasury, and which may be increased but shall not be diminished during their term of office, and they shall receive expenses as provided by law. The salary of a circuit judge shall also not be diminished during his term of office by virtue of the statutory courts of record of limited jurisdiction of his circuit becoming a part of such circuit as provided in section five of this article.

Any justice of the supreme court of appeals and any judge of any circuit court, including any statutory court of record of limited jurisdiction which becomes a part of a circuit court by virtue of section five of this article, in office on the effective date of this article shall continue in office until his term shall expire, unless sooner removed or retired as authorized in this article: Provided, That as to the term of any judge of a statutory court of record of limited jurisdiction which does not expire on the thirty-first day of December, one thousand nine hundred seventy-six, the following provisions shall govern and control unless any such judges shall be sooner removed or retired as authorized in this article: (1) If the term would otherwise expire before the thirty-first day of December, one thousand nine hundred seventy-six, such term shall continue through and expire on said thirty-first day of December, one thousand nine hundred seventy-six, (2) if the term would otherwise expire on the first day of January, one thousand nine hundred seventy-seven, such term shall terminate and expire on the thirty-first day of December, one thousand nine hundred seventy-six, and (3) if the term would otherwise expire after the thirty-first day of December, one thousand nine hundred seventy-six, but other than on the first day of January, one thousand nine hundred seventy-seven, such term shall continue through and expire on the thirty-first day of December, one thousand nine hundred eighty-four.

No justice, judge or magistrate shall hold any other office, or accept any appointment or public trust, under this or any other government; nor shall he become a candidate for any elective public office or nomination thereto, except a judicial office; and the violation of any of these provisions shall vacate his judicial office. No justice of the supreme court of appeals or judge of an intermediate appellate court or of a circuit court shall practice the profession of law during the term of his office, but magistrates who are licensed to practice this profession may practice law except to the extent prohibited by the Legislature.

If from any cause a vacancy shall occur in the office of a justice of the supreme court of appeals or a judge of a circuit court, the governor shall issue a directive of election to fill such vacancy in the manner prescribed by law for electing a justice or judge of the court in which the vacancy exists, and the justice or judge shall be elected for the unexpired term; and in the meantime, the governor shall fill such vacancy by appointment until a justice or judge shall be elected and qualified. If the unexpired term be less than two years, or such additional period, not exceeding a total of three years, as may be prescribed by law, the governor shall fill such vacancy by appointment for the unexpired term.[1]

Section 8

Text of Section 8:

Censure, Temporary Suspension and Retirement of Justices, Judges and Magistrates; Removal

Under its inherent rule-making power, which is hereby declared, the supreme court of appeals shall, from time to time, prescribe, adopt, promulgate and amend rules prescribing a judicial code of ethics, and a code of regulations and standards of conduct and performances for justices, judges and magistrates, along with sanctions and penalties for any violation thereof, and the supreme court of appeals is authorized to censure or temporarily suspend any justice, judge or magistrate having the judicial power of the state, including one of its own members, for any violation of any such code of ethics, code of regulations and standards, or to retire any such justice, judge or magistrate who is eligible for retirement under the West Virginia judges' retirement system (or any successor or substituted retirement system for justices, judges and magistrates of this state) and who, because of advancing years and attendant physical or mental incapacity, should not, in the opinion of the supreme court of appeals, continue to serve as a justice, judge or magistrate.

No justice, judge or magistrate shall be censured, temporarily suspended or retired under the provisions of this section unless he shall have been afforded the right to have a hearing before the supreme court of appeals, nor unless he shall have received notice of the proceedings, with a statement of the cause or causes alleged for his censure, temporary suspension or retirement, at least twenty days before the day on which the proceeding is to commence. No justice of the supreme court of appeals may be temporarily suspended or retired unless all of the other justices concur in such temporary suspension or retirement. When rules herein authorized are prescribed, adopted and promulgated, they shall supersede all laws and parts of laws in conflict therewith, and such laws shall be and become of no further force or effect to the extent of such conflict.

A retired justice or judge may, with his permission and with the approval of the supreme court of appeals, be recalled by the chief justice of the supreme court of appeals for temporary assignment as a justice of the supreme court of appeals, or judge of an intermediate appellate court, a circuit court or a magistrate court.

A justice or judge may be removed only by impeachment in accordance with the provisions of section nine, article four of this constitution. A magistrate may be removed from office in the manner provided by law for the removal of county officers.[1]

Section 9

Text of Section 9:

Clerks of Circuit Courts

The voters of each county shall elect a clerk of the circuit court, whose term of office shall be six years; his duties, responsibilities, compensation and the manner of removing him from office shall be prescribed by law. Whenever the clerk shall be so situated as to make it improper for him to act in any matter, a clerk to act therein shall be appointed by the judge of the circuit court or the chief judge thereof, if there be more than one judge of the circuit court. Vacancies shall be filled in the manner prescribed by law. A clerk of the circuit court in office on the effective date of this article shall continue in office until his term shall expire, unless sooner removed in the manner prescribed by law.[1]

Section 10

Text of Section 10:

Magistrate Courts

The Legislature shall establish in each county a magistrate court or courts with the right of appeal as prescribed by law. Such courts shall be courts of record if so prescribed by law.

The Legislature shall determine the qualifications and the number of magistrates for each such court to be elected by the voters of the county, and the Legislature may prescribe by law whether the election of such magistrates is to be on a partisan or nonpartisan basis: Provided, That any person in office as a justice of the peace of this state on the effective date of this article and who has served as a justice of the peace of this state for at least one year prior to such effective date shall, insofar as any qualifications established by the Legislature for the office of magistrate are concerned and notwithstanding the same, be deemed qualified for life to run for election as a magistrate of any such court: And provided further, That the Legislature shall not have the power to require that a magistrate be a person licensed to practice the profession of law, nor shall any justice or judge of any higher court establish any rules which by their nature would dictate or mandate that a magistrate be a person licensed to practice the profession of law. The magistrates of such courts shall hold their offices for the term of four years unless sooner removed or retired as authorized in this article. The Legislature shall also determine the number of officers to be selected for each such court and the manner of their selection. During his continuance in office a magistrate or officer of such a court shall reside in the county for which he is elected or selected. The Legislature shall prescribe by law for the filling of any vacancy in the office of a magistrate or officer of such court. The jurisdiction of a magistrate court shall extend throughout the county for which it is established, shall be uniform for all counties of the state and shall be subject to such regulations as to venue of actions and the counties in which process may be executed or served on parties or witnesses as may be prescribed by law. The times and places for holding such courts shall be designated or determined in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.

Magistrate courts shall have such original jurisdiction in criminal matters as may be prescribed by law, but no person shall be convicted or sentenced for a felony in such courts. In criminal cases, the procedure may be by information or warrant of arrest, without presentment or indictment by a grand jury. Such courts shall have original jurisdiction in all civil cases at law wherein the value or amount in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs, shall not exceed fifteen hundred dollars, unless such amount and value shall be increased by the Legislature, except such civil matters as may be excluded from their jurisdiction by law; and, to the extent provided by law, in proceedings involving real estate when the title thereto is not in controversy. No judgment of a magistrate in any proceeding involving real estate or any right pertaining thereto shall bar the title of any party or any remedy therefore.

The division of the business of a magistrate court in any county in which there shall be more than one magistrate of such court between the magistrates thereof so as to promote and secure the convenient and expeditious transaction of such business shall be determined in such manner or by such method as shall be prescribed by the judge of the circuit court of such county, or the chief judge thereof, if there be more than one judge of such circuit court.

In a trial by jury in a magistrate court, the jury shall consist of six jurors who are qualified as prescribed by law.

No magistrate or any officer of a magistrate court shall be compensated for his services on a fee basis or receive to his own use for his services any pecuniary compensation, reward or benefit other than the salary prescribed by law.[1]

Section 11

Text of Section 11:

Municipal Courts

The Legislature may provide for the establishment in incorporated cities, towns or villages of municipal, police or mayors' courts, and may also provide the manner of selection of the judges of such courts. Such courts shall have jurisdiction to enforce municipal ordinances, with the right of appeal as prescribed by law. Until otherwise provided by law, all such courts heretofore established shall remain and continue as now constituted, and with the same right of appeal, insofar as their jurisdiction to enforce municipal ordinances is concerned; but on and after January one, one thousand nine hundred seventy-seven, any other jurisdiction now exercised by such courts shall cease. No judge of a municipal, police or mayor's court or any officer thereof shall be compensated for his services on a fee basis or receive to his own use for his services any pecuniary compensation, reward or benefit other than the salary prescribed therefore.[1]

Section 12

Text of Section 12:

Issuance and Execution of Writs, Warrants and Process; Admission to Bail

The Legislature may designate the courts and officers or deputies thereof who shall have the power to issue, execute or serve such writs, warrants or any other process as may be prescribed by law, and may specify before what courts or officers thereof such writs, warrants or other process shall be returnable. The Legislature may also designate the courts and officers or deputies thereof who shall have the power to admit persons to bail. No person exercising such powers shall be compensated therefore on a fee basis.[1]

Section 13

Text of Section 13:

Parts of Existing Law Effective

Except as otherwise provided in this article, such parts of the common law, and of the laws of this state as are in force on the effective date of this article and are not repugnant thereto, shall be and continue the law of this state until altered or repealed by the Legislature.[1]

Section 14

Text of Section 14:

Pending Causes; Transfer of Causes; Records

Until otherwise provided by law, all matters pending in any court on the effective date of this article shall remain and be prosecuted in the court in which they are pending. Whenever the jurisdiction, powers or duties of any court are terminated or changed, the Legislature shall provide by law for the transfer of all matters pending therein as to which the court shall not thereafter act, together with all of the records and papers pertaining thereto, to a court having jurisdiction, powers or duties as to such matters, and shall provide for the prosecution therein of such matters as if then and there pending.

All records and papers pertaining to matters already disposed of in any court shall be preserved or disposed of in a manner prescribed by law.[1]

Section 15

Text of Section 15:

Offices Phased Out; Effective Date of Article; Certain Provisions to Be Operable at Time Specified; Effect of Article on Certain Provisions of Constitution

Notwithstanding the provisions of section one of this article, the office of justice of the peace, as heretofore constituted, shall continue until January one, one thousand nine hundred seventy-seven. No person shall be elected to the office of justice of the peace or constable at the general election to be held in the year one thousand nine hundred seventy-six, and said offices shall cease to exist as of January one, one thousand nine hundred seventy-seven.

This article shall take effect from the time of ratification, but in any case where it is specified in this article that a provision shall become operable on and after a certain date, such date shall govern and control as to the operable date of such provision.

The provisions of this article shall supersede and prevail over all other provisions of this constitution which are expressly or impliedly in conflict or inconsistent therewith.[1]

Section 16

Text of Section 16:

Family Courts

There is hereby created under the general supervisory control of the supreme court of appeals a unified family court system in the state of West Virginia to rule on family law and related matters. Family courts shall have original jurisdiction in the areas of family law and related matters as may hereafter be established by law. Family courts may also have such further jurisdiction as established by law.

Family court judges shall be elected by the voters for a term prescribed by law not to exceed eight years, unless sooner removed or retired as authorized in this article. Family court judges must be admitted to practice law in this state for at least five years prior to their election. Family court judges shall reside in the circuit for which he or she is a judge.

The necessary number of family court judges, the number of family court circuits and the arrangement of circuits shall be established by law. Staggered terms of office for family court judges may also be established by law.

The supreme court of appeals shall have general supervisory control over all family courts and may provide for the assignment of a family court judge to another court for temporary service. The provisions of section seven and eight of this article applicable to circuit judges shall also apply to family court judges.[1]

See also

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