HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 13
(By Delegates Doyle and Miller)
(Introduced February 14, 1995; referred to the
Committee on Constitutional Revision.)
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of West
Virginia, amending sections two, five and ten, article eight
thereof, relating to electing supreme court justices,
circuit judges, and magistrates on a nonpartisan basis;
staggering the elections for supreme court justices, circuit
court judges, and magistrates; and holding elections for
supreme court justices, circuit court judges, and
magistrates in the general election; numbering and
designating such proposed amendment; and providing a
summarized statement of the purpose of such proposed
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 one thousand nine hundred ninety-six,
which proposed amendment is that sections two, five and ten,
article eight thereof be amended, to read as follows:
ARTICLE VIII. JUDICIAL POWER.
§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 ten years, unless sooner removed or retired as
authorized in this article. The election of the justices is to
be on a nonpartisan basis during the general election and
staggered in a way that shall be prescribed by the Legislature.
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
§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
election of circuit judges is to be on a nonpartisan basis during
the general election and staggered in such a way as shall beprescribed by the Legislature.
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 the statutory court of record
of limited jurisdiction shall thereupon become a judge of such
the circuit court. During his continuance in office, a judge of
a circuit court shall reside in the circuit of which he is a
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
the 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
the court. If there be two or more judges of a circuit court,provision shall be made by rules of such the circuit court for
the selection of one of such the 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 the 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
such the judges may hold court in the same county or in
different counties within the circuit at the same time or at
§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 The courts shall be courts of record if so prescribed by
The Legislature shall determine the qualifications and the
number of magistrates for each such court to be elected by thevoters of the county.
and the Legislature may prescribe by law
whether the election of such magistrates is to be on a partisan
or nonpartisan basi s The elections of the magistrates is to be
on a nonpartisan basis during the general election and staggered
in such a manner as shall by prescribed by the Legislature:
Provided, That any person in office as a justice of the peace
magistrate of this state on the effective date of this article
and who has served as a justice of the peace magistrate 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, Provided,
however, 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 the 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 the court
shall reside in the county for which he is elected or selected.
The Legislature shall prescribe by law for the filling of anyvacancy in the office of a magistrate or officer of such the
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 the 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 the 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.
The 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 the 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 therefor.
The division of the business of a magistrate court in anycounty in which there shall be more than one magistrate of
the 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 the 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 the 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.
Resolved further, That in accordance with the provisions of
article eleven, chapter three of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, such proposed
amendment is hereby numbered "Amendment No. 1" and designated as
the "Judicial Election Amendment" and the purpose of the proposed
amendment is summarized as follows: "To provide that the terms
of supreme court justices, circuit judges, and magistrates are to
be staggered and that they are to be elected on a nonpartisan
NOTE: The purpose of this resolution is that the election
of the entire judiciary in the state of West Virginia serve
staggered terms and be elected on a nonpartisan basis.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken
from the present Constitution, and underscoring indicates new
language that would be added.