(a) "Civil action" means any action or appeal from an action filed by any current or former inmate or his or her personal representative with respect to conditions of confinement, including, but not limited to, petitions for extraordinary writs, civil actions under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and other federal and state laws and negligence actions. Actions that exclusively concern an inmate's sentence or conviction are not subject to the requirements of this article.
(b) "Correctional facility" means any county jail, regional jail or any facility operated by the division of corrections, the West Virginia regional jail and correctional facility authority or division of juvenile services for the confinement of inmates.
(c) "Inmate" means any person confined in a correctional facility who is accused of, convicted of, sentenced for or adjudicated delinquent for violations of criminal law or the terms and conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release or a diversionary program.
(b) The commissioner of the division of corrections and the executive director of the regional jail authority are authorized to establish administrative procedures for processing inmate complaints concerning food quality, health care, nonviolent or nonsexual conduct of employees or contractors of the division of corrections or regional jail authority, loss of privileges and other general complaints about daily living conditions which do not directly and seriously concern an inmate's physical health or security. The proposed joint legislative rule required by the prior enactment of this subsection shall be withdrawn. The commissioner and the executive director shall, by the thirty-first day of January, two thousand one, each file a procedural rule in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code to meet the requirements of this subsection. The public comment period conducted for the proposed legislative rule shall serve as the public comment period required by section five, article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, no inmate shall be prevented from filing an appeal of his or her conviction or bringing a civil or criminal action alleging past, current or imminent physical or sexual abuse; if such a civil or criminal action is ultimately dismissed by a judge as frivolous, then the inmate shall pay the filing costs associated with the civil or criminal action as provided for in this article.
(b) When an inmate seeks to file a civil action as an indigent and requests that customary filing fees and court costs be waived, the clerk of the court in which the inmate has filed his or her complaint shall notify the warden or designated representative of the facility in which the inmate resides of the inmate's request and the amount of filing costs. Once the facility receives notification, the custodian of the inmate's trust account shall immediately compute the average monthly balance of the inmate's trust account over the preceding three-month period and deduct from the inmate's trust account thirty percent of the average balance as a partial filing fee. The custodian shall deduct that same amount or up to thirty percent of the balance of the inmate's trust account, whichever is greater, on a monthly basis until the filing fee is paid in full.
(c) The custodian of the inmate's trust account shall place all funds deducted from the inmate's trust into a special account designated as the "filing fees account," to be established for each correctional facility and to be administered by the custodian and warden or chief administrator of each facility. Biannually the custodian and warden or chief administrator of the filing fees account shall distribute the balance of the account, minus any expense in maintaining that account, to the circuit clerk of the county in which the state correctional facility resides as a filing fee for all suits filed by indigent inmates of that facility.
(b) A civil action is frivolous or malicious if it:
(1) Has no arguable basis in fact or law; or
(2) Is substantially similar to a previous civil action in which the inmate did not substantially prevail, either in that it is brought against the same parties or in that the civil action arises from the same operative facts of a previous civil action; or
(3) Has been brought with the intent to harass an opposing party.
(b) Subject to the agreement of the official with custody over an inmate, the court may conduct hearings at the correctional facility in which an inmate is confined. To the extent practicable, the court shall allow counsel to participate by telephone, video conference or other communications technology in any hearing held at the facility.
(c) No court may compel the commissioner of the division of corrections or warden of any correctional facility operated by the division of corrections or the executive director of the West Virginia regional jail and correctional facility authority or any administrator of any facility operated by the West Virginia regional jail and correctional facility authority to transport to court any inmate having a maximum security classification if the warden or administrator of the facility tenders to the court an affidavit attesting to the custody level of the inmate and stating that, in the warden's or administrator's opinion, the inmate possesses a substantial risk of escape if transported. If a warden or administrator files an affidavit, then the warden or administrator shall, upon demand of the court, provide suitable room to conduct any trial or hearings at which an inmate's presence is required. The warden or administrator shall allow the court, counsel and all court personnel access to the correctional facility to conduct the proceedings the court considers necessary.
(1) The fees were directly and reasonably incurred by an attorney in proving an actual violation of prisoner's rights protected by the constitution or statute; and
(2) The amount of the fees is proportionately related to the court-ordered relief for the violation, or the fees were directly and reasonably incurred in enforcing the relief ordered for the violation.
(b) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a prisoner from entering into an agreement to pay an attorney fee in excess of the amount authorized in this section, if the fee is paid by the prisoner rather than by another party to a civil action.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session