(By Senators Oliverio, Jenkins and Hunter)


[Introduced February 3, 2003; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.]


Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of West Virginia, amending section ten, article VIII thereof, relating to increasing the term of office of magistrates from four 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 two thousand four, which proposed amendment is that section ten, article VIII thereof be amended, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 8. 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 Magistrate courts shall be are 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 considered 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 courts shall hold their offices for the term of 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 or her continuance in office a magistrate or officer of such a court shall reside in the county for which he or she 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 these courts shall be designated or determined in such the 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 Magistrate 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 is more than one magistrate of such for the court shall be divided between the magistrates thereof so as to promote and secure the convenient and expeditious transaction of such business and shall be determined in such the manner or by such the method as shall be prescribed by the judge of the circuit court of such the county, or the chief judge thereof, if there be are 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 or her services on a fee basis or receive to his or her own use for his or her 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 "Increase the term of office of magistrates amendment" and the purpose of the proposed amendment is summarized as follows: "To increase the term of office of magistrates from four to six years."

NOTE: The purpose of this resolution is to propose an amendment to the State Constitution that would increase the term of office of magistrates from four to six years.

Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present Constitution, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.