Senate Bill No. 54

(By Senator Jenkins)


         [Introduced February 13, 2013; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.]                            


A BILL to amend and reenact §50-1-4 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to requirements to serve as a magistrate; requiring an associate's degree or greater to serve; providing exceptions to education requirements; providing internal operative date; clarifying training requirements; and deleting antiquated provisions.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That §50-1-4 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:


§50-1-4. Qualifications of magistrates; training; oath; continuing education; time devoted to public duties.

    Each magistrate shall be (a) Effective January 1, 2015, a person is qualified to serve as a magistrate if he or she:

____(1) Is at least twenty-one years of age; shall have

    (2) Has any of the following qualifications:

____(A) An associate or higher degree from an accredited college or university;

____(B) A minimum of four years of experience as a magistrate; or ________(C) For persons holding the office of magistrate on January 1, 2015, at least a high school education or its equivalent;

    shall not have (D) Has not been convicted of any a felony or any misdemeanor involving moral turpitude; and

    shall reside (E) Resides in the county of his or her election.

    No (b) A magistrate shall may not be a member of the immediate family of any other magistrate in the county. In the event If more than one member of an immediate family shall be is elected in a county, only the member receiving the highest number of votes shall be is eligible to serve. For purposes of this section, immediate family means the relationship of mother, father, sister, brother, child or spouse. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, each person who held the office of justice of the peace on November 5, 1974, and who served in or performed the functions of such office for at least one year immediately prior thereto shall be deemed qualified to run for the office of magistrate in the county of his residence.

    (c) No person shall may assume the duties of magistrate unless he shall have first attended and or she has completed a course of
instruction in rudimentary principles of law and procedure which shall be is given in accordance with the supervisory rules of the Supreme Court of Appeals.
    (d) All magistrates shall be are required to attend such other courses of continuing educational instruction as may be required by supervisory rule of training as provided by law and the Supreme Court of Appeals. Failure to attend such courses of continuing educational instruction without good cause shall constitute the training without good cause or without the permission of the Supreme Court Administrator is neglect of duty. Such courses shall be provided at least once every other year. Persons attending such courses Magistrates attending training outside of the county of their residence shall be reimbursed by the state for expenses actually incurred in accordance with the supervisory rules of the Supreme Court of Appeals.

    (e) Each magistrate shall, before assuming the duties of office, take an oath of office to be administered by the circuit judge of the county, or the chief judge thereof if there is more than one judge. of the circuit court

    (f) Each magistrate shall maintain the qualifications for office at all times.

    Each magistrate who serves five thousand or less in population shall devote such time to his or her public duties as shall be required by rule or regulation of the judge of the circuit court,
or the chief judge thereof if there is more than one judge of the circuit court. Each magistrate who serves more than five thousand in population shall devote full time to his or her public duties. As nearly as practicable, the workload and the total number of hours required shall be divided evenly among the magistrates in a county by such judge.

    NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to require magistrates to possess an associate degree or have at least four years prior experience as a magistrate.

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