CHAPTER 51. COURTS AND THEIR OFFICERS.
ARTICLE 4. GENERAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO CLERKS OF COURTS.
§51-4-1. Where clerks' offices to be kept.
The clerk's office of the supreme court of appeals shall be
kept at the seat of government, unless such court shall direct it
to be kept elsewhere. The clerks' offices of the circuit court and
county court of every county shall be kept at the courthouse of
such county, unless there shall have been a failure to provide such
offices there, in which case they may be kept at such other place
within the county as the respective courts may direct.
§51-4-2. Inspection of records and papers; copies.
The records and papers of every court shall be open to the
inspection of any person, and the clerk shall, when required,
furnish copies thereof, except in cases where it is otherwise
§51-4-3. Preservation and destruction of papers; microphotography
and electronic storage.
All papers lawfully returned to or filed in the clerk's office
shall be preserved therein, subject to the conditions set out
herein, until legally delivered out.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the
contrary, the clerk may destroy all documents, records,
instruments, books, papers, depositions and transcripts in any
action or proceeding in the circuit court or other court of record,
or otherwise filed in his office pursuant to law, provided that:
(a) Destruction is done in accordance with a "Record Retention
Schedule" to be adopted, promulgated and amended, from time to
time, by the Supreme Court of Appeals; and
(b) The clerk maintains for the use of the public a
microphotographic film or electronic storage media record of all
documents required to be permanently preserved under the "Record
Retention Schedule," together with an index and a mechanical or
electronic device by which such microphotographic film or
electronic storage media record may be conveniently examined. The
clerk shall promptly seal and store at least one original of each
microphotographic film or electronic storage media record in such
manner and place as will reasonably assure its preservation
indefinitely against loss, theft, defacement, intentional
alteration, fire or other destruction. Any electronic method used
must provide an exact copy of each document so stored and must be
secure to the point that an attempt to alter a document is readily
A photographic reproduction or electronic media reproduction
of any of the records described in this section, the negative or
film or electronic record of which has been certified by the clerk
in charge of such reproduction as being an exact replica of the
original, shall be received in evidence in all courts, and in
hearings before any officer, board or commission having
jurisdiction or authority to conduct such hearings, in like manner
as the original.
§51-4-4. Removal of records or papers out of county; penalty.
None of the records or papers of a court shall be removed by
the clerk, nor allowed by him or by the court to be removed, out of
the county wherein the clerk's office is kept, except on an
occasion of invasion or insurrection, actual or threatened, when,
in the opinion of the court, or, in a very sudden case, of the
clerk, the same will be endangered, after which they shall be
returned as soon as the danger ceases; and except in such other
cases as are specifically provided by law, or by general order of
the court permitting the removal or transfer thereof to counties
within his circuit; or to another circuit in cases being heard by
a visiting or special judge. In such cases of removal or transfer
the clerk of the court from which such papers and records are
removed shall take and preserve an appropriate written receipt
therefor. Any clerk violating this section shall forfeit six
hundred dollars. However, this section shall not be construed as
to prevent a judge of a circuit court from taking files of papers
from any county of his circuit, or directing the clerk to send such
files to him, when he needs to use the same.
§51-4-5. Authority to administer oath.
Any clerk of a court, or his deputy, may administer an oath in
any case wherein an affidavit is necessary or proper.
§51-4-6. Preparation of bonds.
Every clerk shall prepare in a proper manner any bond to be
taken by or given before him or his court or the judge thereof in
§51-4-7. Transmission of copies of certain records to county
clerk; recordation; penalty.
The clerk of the court wherein there is any partition of, or
assignment of dower in, or any recovery of, land under any
judgment, decree or order, shall transmit, to the clerk of the
county court of each county wherein such land is, a copy of such
judgment, decree or order, and of the order confirming the same,
together with such description of the land as may appear in the
papers of the cause, and the report of such partition or
assignment. Such clerk shall record the same in his deed book, and
index it in the name of the person who had the land before, and
also in the name of the person who became entitled under such
partition, assignment or recovery. Every such record shall be as
effectual, in cases of partition, to convey the legal title of such
land to the person to whom the same is assigned by the report of
the commissioners and decree of the court as deeds of partition
would be if duly made by the parties. A clerk failing to perform
any duty required of him by this section shall forfeit not less
than twenty nor more than one hundred dollars.
Acts, 1992 Reg. Sess., Ch. 116.
§51-4-9. Indexes of books; penalty.
The clerk of every court shall have an index to each book he
is required to keep, making convenient reference to every order,
record, or entry therein. Every execution and every judgment or
decree for money shall be indexed as well in the name of every
person against whom, as in the name of every person in whose favor,
the same is. A clerk failing to perform any duty required of him
by this section shall forfeit not less than twenty nor more than
one hundred dollars.
§51-4-10. Duplicate certificate of allowance; penalty.
There shall be no duplicate certificate of any allowance of a
court to be paid out of the treasury, unless the court, upon proof,
by the oath of the party or otherwise, of the loss or destruction
of the original certificate, shall order a duplicate, which shall
show on its face that it is a duplicate issued by order of the
court. Any clerk who shall issue a duplicate otherwise shall
forfeit one hundred dollars.
§51-4-11. Report by circuit clerk to auditor of claims allowed
against state; duties of auditor; penalty.
It shall be the duty of the clerk of the circuit court of each
county, in addition to the reports of fines, jurors and witnesses
otherwise provided for by law, to transmit to the auditor, within
thirty days after the adjournment of each term of the court, a
report of all claims allowed and certified by such court for
payment out of the state treasury. Such report shall show in whose
favor the claim is allowed, for what purpose and the amount
thereof. It shall be the duty of the auditor to furnish the clerk
with blank forms for such reports, and, when made out and returned
to the auditor, he shall cause the same to be recorded in a book to
be kept by him for that purpose.
If any clerk or the auditor fail to perform any duty required
in this section he shall forfeit one hundred dollars.
Acts, 1998 Reg. Sess., Ch. 88.
§51-4-12a. Free recordation of discharges, other than
dishonorable, and certificates of satisfactory
service; free issuance to veterans and dependents
of copies of certain records.
A discharge, other than dishonorable, from the armed forces of
the United States, and a certificate of satisfactory service in
said armed forces held by any and all persons, shall be recorded by
a county clerk in a special record book, free of any and all fees
or costs therefor. This book shall be kept on file in the office
of the clerk of the county court of the county in which the person
holding such discharge or certificate resides: Provided,
application to the vital statistics department, or any other agency
authorized to issue birth certificates in this state, the original
discharge or certificate, or a certified copy from the clerk's
office, where same is recorded, shall be taken as proof of the date
of birth of the veteran for all purposes, and no other or further
proof shall be required.
The county clerk of any county shall furnish copies of records
of a discharge, other than dishonorable, certificate of
satisfactory service, marriage, divorce, adoption, birth or death,
which he may have in his possession, without fee, to veterans of
any war, soldiers in service, or the dependents of such veterans or
soldiers, when these records are necessary to obtain benefits from
the federal or state governments.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session