HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 115
(By Delegate McGraw)
[Introduced February 27, 1998; referred to the Committee on Constitutional Revision.]
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of West
Virginia, amending section ten, article eight thereof,
relating to increasing the term for magistrates from four
years to six years; 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 one thousand nine hundred ninety-eight,
which proposed amendment is that section ten, article eight
thereof be amended to read as follows:
ARTICLE VIII. THE JUDICIARY.
§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 courts shall be courts of record if so prescribed by law.
The Legislature shall determine the qualifications and the
number of magistrates for each such court to be elected by the
voters of the county, and the Legislature may prescribe by law
whether the election of such magistrates is to be on a partisan
or nonpartisan basis: Provided, That any person in office as a
justice of the peace of this state on the effective date of this
article and who has served as a justice of the peace 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: 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 courts shall hold their offices for the term
four six 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 court shall reside in the county for which
he is elected or selected. The Legislature shall prescribe by
law for the filling of any vacancy in the office of a magistrate
or officer of such court.
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 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
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. Such
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
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 any
county in which there shall be more than one magistrate of such
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 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
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 ""Magistrate Term Amendment", and the purpose of the proposed
amendment is summarized as follows:
"To amend section ten, article eight of the State
constitution to increase the term of office of magistrates from
four years to six years."
NOTE: The purpose of this resolution is to propose an
amendment to Section Ten, Article VIII of the West Virginia
constitution, relating to increasing the term of office of
magistrates from four years to six years.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken
from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language
that would be added.