H. B. 3140
(By Delegate Ennis)
[Introduced March 22, 2005; referred to the
Committee on Political Subdivisions then the Judiciary .]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by
adding thereto four new sections, designated §8-34-2, §8-34-3,
§8-34-4 and §8-34-5, all relating to municipal courts
generally; making it a misdemeanor to fail to appear for
court; setting forth criminal penalties; mandatory driver's
license reinstatement by certain municipal courts; penalties
imposed on court and court personnel; minimum evidence in
certain cases; inspections by Department of Labor; fees;
procedure where certain municipal judges violate civil rights;
clarification of no judicial immunity for certain judges; and
penalties for violations.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended
by adding thereto four new sections, designated §8-34-2, §8-34-3,
§8-34-4 and §8-34-5, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 34. JUDICIAL REVIEW AND COURT PROCEDURES.
§8-34-2. Failure to appear; penalties.
Where any person has failed to appear for municipal court in
accordance with a citation, summons, warrant, bond or court ordered
continuance, in addition to any other remedies provided in this
code, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction
thereof, shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars, or
imprisoned in jail not more than fifteen days.
This section applies to all persons who fail to appear. Where
a person is a juvenile at the time an offense was allegedly
committed, but an adult when he or she fails to appear, that person
may be charged under this section.
§8-34-3. Mandatory reinstatement of license by certain municipal
Any municipal court of a Class I municipality having a
population in excess of forty-nine thousand people suspending a
person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle for failure to
appear, or failure to pay, shall, once the person has appeared, or
paid, as the case may be, immediately reinstate that person's
privilege to operate a motor vehicle, including payment to the
Division of Motor Vehicles all fees involved. For the purposes of
this section, the word immediately means within four hours.
In the event the municipality does not comply with the
provisions of this section, the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles shall, upon receiving a written complaint by a person, and upon
verification by the Commissioner the complaint is accurate,
disallow the municipality the right to suspend operator's licenses
for any reason for thirty days for each violation of this section.
Violation of the provisions of this section is a misdemeanor,
which shall subject the municipal judge and his or her clerk, upon
conviction, to a fine of one hundred dollars and twenty-four hours
§8-34-4. Minimum evidence in certain cases.
Any municipal court of a Class I municipality hearing a case
involving overtime meter parking, may not allow the introduction of
evidence unless the municipality can show by written evidence that
the West Virginia Department of Labor has inspected and certified
the meter involved to be accurate within the time period not more
than thirty days prior to the date the alleged offense occurred.
This section is remedial in nature and affects all overtime parking
cases pending on the date this section is enacted.
The West Virginia Division of Labor shall charge a
municipality not more than thirty dollars per meter for the
inspection and certification.
§8-34-5. Procedure where municipal judge violates civil rights in
It is unlawful for a municipal judge to violate the civil
rights of any person appearing before them. A violation may occur when a municipal judge finds a person guilty of an offense without
evidence or when a municipal judge finds a person guilty of an
offense that does not apply to the facts of the case, each in a
bench trial. For municipal judges of Class I municipalities having
a population in excess of forty-eight thousand people, there is no
judicial immunity: Provided,
That where the municipal judge is
overturned on appeal regarding the two instances of civil rights
violations set forth herein, there is a rebuttable presumption that
the municipal judge violated the person's civil rights, if the
trial was a bench trial.
For each case involving an appeal from a finding of guilty
following a bench trial where the municipal judge's decision is
overturned, a municipal judge of a Class I municipality having a
population in excess of forty-eight thousand people
liable to the defendant for one hundred dollars, in addition to
returning the defendant's bond by the municipality. This amount is
to deter improper conduct by municipal judges of Class I
municipalities having a population in excess of forty-eight
thousand people, and shall in all events be paid from the personal
funds of that judge. The judge may not be reimbursed by the
municipality, and it is an impermissible expenditure for the
municipality to insure or bond the judge for this purpose.
The remedy herein provided is in addition to all other
remedies provided by law. Nothing herein may be construed to limit the liability of any Class I municipality for civil rights
violations by its municipal judge.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to make it a misdemeanor for
a defendant to fail to appear for municipal court. The bill also
requires certain municipal courts to reinstate a driver's license
where the court has suspended the same, when a person has appeared
or paid a fine. The bill also requires evidence that a parking
meter has been certified to operate correctly by the Department of
Labor before it can convict a person of overtime parking. Finally
the bill addresses certain liability of judges who violate the
civil rights of defendants.
These sections are new; therefore strike-throughs and
underlining have been omitted.