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Introduced Version Senate Joint Resolution 6 History

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SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 6

(By Senators Yoder, Caruth, Guills, Barnes, Boley and Sypolt)

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[Introduced January 11, 2008; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary; and then to the Committee on Finance.]

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Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of West Virginia, amending sections two and five, article VIII thereof, relating to providing for the merit selection of Justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals and circuit court judges; numbering and designating such proposed amendment; and providing a summarized statement of the purpose of such proposed amendment.

Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia, two thirds of the members elected to each house agreeing thereto:
That the question of ratification or rejection of an amendment to the Constitution of the State of West Virginia be submitted to the voters of the state at the next general election to be held in the year two thousand eight, which proposed amendment is that sections two and five, article VIII thereof, be amended to read as follows:
ARTICLE VIII.
§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 selected on the basis of merit for a term of twelve years, unless sooner removed or retired as authorized in this article. The Legislature may shall prescribe by law whether the election of such justices is to be on a partisan or nonpartisan basis the method and criteria to be employed to assure that persons selected are of the highest integrity and outstanding legal acumen.
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 or her 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 or her
stead.
§5. Circuit courts.
The judge or judges of each circuit court shall be elected by the voters of selected on the basis of merit and shall reside in the circuit in which they preside for a term of eight years, unless sooner removed or retired as authorized in this article. The Legislature may shall prescribe by law whether the election of such judges is to be on a partisan or nonpartisan basis the method and criteria to be employed to assure that persons selected are of the highest integrity and outstanding legal acumen.
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 or her continuance in office, a judge of a circuit court shall reside in the circuit of which he or she 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 appointment or reappointment 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 or she
shall continue to reside after such change until his or her 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 of the circuit. 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 or her 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 of the circuit 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.
Resolved further, That in accordance with the provisions of article eleven, chapter three of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, such proposed amendment is hereby numbered "Amendment No. 1" and designated as the "Merit Selection of Justices and Judges Amendment" and the purpose of the proposed amendment is summarized as follows: "To provide for the selection of justices and judges on our state judiciary on the basis of merit."

NOTE: The purpose of this resolution is to provide that Justices of the Supreme Court and circuit court judges are appointed based on merit.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present Constitution, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.
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