H. B. 3185
(By Delegate Warner)
[Introduced February 21, 2003; referred to
the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend article thirty-four, chapter eight of the code of
West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as
amended, by adding thereto four new sections, designated
sections two, three, four and five, all relating to municipal
courts; making it a misdemeanor to fail to appear for court;
setting forth criminal penalties; mandatory drivers license
reinstatement by certain municipal courts; penalties imposed
on court and court personnel; minimum evidence in certain
cases; inspections by department of labor; fees; procedure
where certain municipal judges violate civil rights;
clarification of no judicial immunity for certain judges; and
penalties for such violations.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That article thirty-four, chapter eight of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding thereto four new sections, designated sections
two, three, four and five, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 34. JUDICIAL REVIEW AND COURT PROCEDURES.
§8-34-2. Failure to Appear; penalties.
Where any person has failed to appear for municipal court in
accordance with a citation, summons, warrant, bond or court ordered
continuance, in addition to any other remedies provided in this
code, that person is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction
thereof, shall be fined not more than one thousand dollars, or
imprisoned in the regional or county jail not more than fifteen
This section applies to all persons who fail to appear. Where
a person is a juvenile at the time an offense was allegedly
committed, but an adult when he or she fails to appear, that person
may be charged under this section.
§8-34-3. Mandatory reinstatement of license by certain municipal
Any municipal court of a class I municipality having a
population in excess of forty-nine thousand people that suspends a
persons privilege to operate a motor vehicle for failure to appear,
or failure to pay, shall, once the person has appeared, or paid, as
the case may be, immediately reinstate that person's privilege to
operate a motor vehicle, including payment to the division of motor
vehicles all fees involved. For the purposes of this section, the word immediately means within four hours.
In the event the municipality does not comply with the
provisions of this section, the commissioner of motor vehicles
shall, upon receiving a written complaint by a person, and upon
verification by the commissioner the complaint is accurate,
disallow the municipality the right to suspend operator's licenses
for any reason for thirty days for each violation of this section.
Violation of the provisions of this section is a misdemeanor,
which shall subject the municipal judge and his or her clerk, upon
conviction, to a fine of one hundred dollars and twenty-four hours
in the county or regional jail.
§8-34-4. Minimum evidence in certain cases.
Any municipal court of a class I municipality hearing a case
involving overtime meter parking, may not allow the introduction of
evidence unless the municipality can show by written evidence that
the West Virginia department of labor has inspected and certified
the meter involved to be accurate within the time period not more
than thirty days prior to the date the alleged offense occurred.
This section is remedial in nature and affects all overtime parking
cases pending on the date this section is enacted.
The West Virginia department of labor shall charge a
municipality not more than thirty dollars per meter for the
inspection and certification.
§8-34-5. Procedure where municipal judge violates civil rights in bench trial.
It is unlawful for a municipal judge to violate the civil
rights of any person appearing before them. This can occur where
a municipal judge finds a person guilty of an offense without
evidence or where a judge finds a person guilty of an offense that
does not apply to the facts of the case, each in a bench trial.
For municipal judges of class I municipalities having a population
in excess of forty-eight thousand people, there is no judicial
immunity: Provided, That where the municipal judge is overturned
on appeal regarding the two instances of civil rights violations
set forth herein, there is a rebuttable presumption that the
municipal judge violated the person's civil rights, if the trial
was a bench trial.
For each case involving an appeal from a finding of guilty
following a bench trial where the municipal judge's decision is
overturned, a municipal judge of a class I municipality is
personally liable to the defendant for one hundred dollars, in
addition to return of the defendant's bond by the municipality.
This amount is to deter improper conduct by municipal judges of
class I municipalities having a population in excess of forty-eight
thousand people, and shall in all events be paid from the personal
funds of that judge. The judge may not be reimbursed by the
municipality, and it is an impermissible expenditure for the
municipality to insure or bond the judge for this.
The remedy herein provided shall be in addition to all other
remedies provided by law. Nothing herein may be construed to limit
the liability of any such class I municipality for civil rights
violations by its municipal judge.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to make it a misdemeanor for
a defendant to fail to appear for court. The bill also requires
certain municipal courts to reinstate a drivers license where the
court has suspended the same, when a person has appeared or paid a
fine. The bill also requires evidence that a parking meter has
been certified to operate correctly by the Department of Labor
before it can convict a person of overtime parking. Finally the
bill addresses certain liability of judges who violate the civil
rights of defendants.
These sections are new; therefore strike-throughs and
underlining have been omitted.