H. B. 2090
(By Delegates Amores, Webster and R. Thompson)
(Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary)
[January 21, 2003]
A BILL to amend article two, chapter six-b of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by
adding thereto a new section, designated section five-a,
relating to requiring the ethics commission to establish a
code of conduct for state administrative law judges, including
civil penalties and sanctions for violations.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That article two, chapter six-b of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by
adding thereto a new section, designated section five-a to read as
ARTICLE 2. WEST VIRGINIA ETHICS COMMISSION; POWERS AND DUTIES;
DISCLOSURE OF FINANCIAL INTEREST BY PUBLIC OFFICIALS
AND EMPLOYEES; APPEARANCES BEFORE PUBLIC AGENCIES;
CODE OF CONDUCT FOR ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES.
§6B-2-5a. Code of conduct for state administrative law judges.
(a) As used in this section, "state administrative law judge"
means any public employee, public officer or contractor functioning
as a hearing officer, referee, trial examiner or other position in
state government to whom the authority to conduct an administrative
adjudication has been delegated by an agency or by statute and who
exercises independent and impartial judgment in conducting hearings
and in issuing recommended decisions or reports containing findings
of fact and conclusions of law in accordance with applicable
statutes or rules, but does not include any person whose conduct is
subject to the code of judicial conduct promulgated by the West
Virginia supreme court of appeals.
(b) In accordance with the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a
of this code, the commission shall promulgate a legislative rule
establishing a code of conduct for state administrative law judges,
which shall incorporate the following major provisions:
(1) A state administrative law judge shall uphold the
integrity and independence of the administrative judiciary;
(2) A state administrative law judge shall avoid impropriety
and the appearance of impropriety in all activities;
(3) A state administrative law judge shall perform the duties
of the office impartially and diligently;
(4) A state administrative law judge shall regulate the
judge's extra-judicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial duties;
(5) A state administrative law judge shall refrain from
political activity inappropriate to the office; and
(6) Appropriate civil penalties and sanctions for violations.
In promulgating the rule, the commission shall consider the
model codes of judicial conduct for state administrative law judges
as drafted by the National Association of Administrative Law Judges
and the American Bar Association.
(c) The legislative rule shall provide that an individual
agency may develop a code of conduct for its own administrative law
judges, which shall supersede the general code of conduct
established under this section, if the commission determines that
it is in substantial compliance with the objectives of the code
promulgated by the commission. Upon granting such a waiver to an
agency, the commission shall retain a copy of the agency's code to
be made available to the public.
(d) The commission shall promulgate the legislative rule by
the first day of October, two thousand three, so that it may be
considered by the Legislature at the regular session in the year
two thousand four, and the commission may not promulgate an
emergency rule on this matter in the interim.
This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.