Senate Bill No. 387
(By Senators Cookman, Unger, Plymale and Palumbo)
[Passed April 11, 2013; in effect from passage.]
AN ACT to amend and reenact §51-2A-7 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating generally to the powers of family court judges; and granting family court judges the authority to compel and supervise the production of criminal background investigations when appropriate.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §51-2A-7 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2A. FAMILY COURTS.
§51-2A-7. Powers; administrative and judicial functions of family court judge.
(a) The family court judge will exercise any power or authority provided in this article, in chapter forty-eight of this code or as otherwise provided by general law. Additionally, the family court judge has the authority to:
(1) Manage the business before them;
(2) Summon witnesses and compel their attendance in court;
(3) Exercise reasonable control over discovery;
(4) Compel and supervise the production of evidence, including criminal background investigations when appropriate;
(5) Discipline attorneys;
(6) Prevent abuse of process; and
(7) Correct errors in a record.
(b) The family court judge has responsibility for the supervision and administration of the family court. A family court judge may promulgate local administrative rules governing the conduct and administration of the family court. In family court circuits with more than one family court judge, all family court judges must agree to the rules. If all of the family court judges in a family court circuit cannot agree, the chief judge of each circuit court in the counties in which the family court circuit is located shall promulgate the local administrative rules. If the chief judges of the circuit courts cannot agree, the Supreme Court of Appeals may promulgate the local administrative rules. Local administrative rules are subordinate and subject to the rules of the Supreme Court of Appeals or the orders of the chief justice. Rules promulgated by the family or circuit court are made by order entered upon the order book of the circuit court and are effective when filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Appeals.
(c) Prior to the 2003 regular session of the Legislature and annually thereafter, the Supreme Court of Appeals shall report to the Legislature on the caseload in each family court circuit and shall recommend changes to the management of the family court as the Supreme Court of Appeals deems warranted or necessary to improve the family court.
(d) The Supreme Court of Appeals shall promulgate a procedural rule to establish time-keeping requirements for family court judges, family case coordinators and secretary-clerks of family court judges so as to assure the maximum funding of incentive payments, grants and other funding sources available to the state for the processing of cases filed for the location of absent parents, the establishment of paternity and the establishment, modification and enforcement of child support orders.