Senate Bill No. 432
(By Senator Deem)
[Introduced February 19, 1996; referred to the Committee
on the Judiciary; and then to the Committee on Finance
A BILL to amend and reenact section one, article four, chapter
forty-eight-a of the code of West Virginia, one thousand
nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to election of
family law masters; term of office; vacancy; and removal.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section one, article four, chapter forty-eight-a of the
code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as
amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 4. PROCEEDINGS BEFORE A MASTER.
§48A-4-1. Election of family law masters; term of office;
(a) Beginning with the primary and general elections to be
conducted in the year one thousand nine hundred ninety-six, each family law master shall be elected at large from the entire
region as designated in section four of this article. In each
region the candidates for nomination or election shall be voted
upon and the votes cast for the candidates in each region shall
be tallied separately from the votes cast for candidates in other
regions. The candidate receiving the highest number of the votes
cast within a region shall be nominated or elected, as the case
may be. The candidates receiving the highest number of votes
cast within a region which has assigned more than one family law
master shall be nominated or elected, as the case may be.
(b) The family law masters holding office on the effective
date of this section by virtue of appointments made under the
prior enactments of this article shall continue their service for
a term of office ending on the thirty-first day of December, one
thousand nine hundred ninety-six. The terms of family law
masters elected to office at the general election of one thousand
nine hundred ninety-six, shall commence on the first day of
January, one thousand nine hundred ninety-seven, and on a like
date in every fourth year thereafter, and ending on the thirty-
first day of December, two thousand, and on a like date in every
fourth year thereafter.
(c) If a vacancy occurs in the office of family law master,
the governor shall, within thirty days after the vacancy occurs,
fill the vacancy by appointment for the unexpired term.
(d) Removal of a law master during the term for which he or
she is elected shall be as follows:
(1) Upon a recommendation by the judicial hearing board
created pursuant to the rules of procedure for the handling of
complaints against justices, judges, magistrates and family law
masters, if the supreme court of appeals finds that a family law
master has violated the judicial code of ethics or that the
master, because of advancing years and attendant physical or
mental incapacity, should not continue to serve, the supreme
court of appeals may, in lieu of or in addition to any
disposition authorized by such rules, remove the family law
master from office.
(2) The supreme court of appeals may remove a law master
when conduct of the family law master evidences incompetence,
unsatisfactory performance, misconduct, neglect of duty or
physical or mental disability.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to require that family
law masters be elected rather than appointed.
This section has been completely rewritten; therefore,
strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.