Introduced Version House Bill 3140 History

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H. B. 3140

(By Delegate Ennis)

[Introduced March 22, 2005; referred to the

Committee on Political Subdivisions then the Judiciary .]

A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto four new sections, designated §8-34-2, §8-34-3, §8-34-4 and §8-34-5, all relating to municipal courts generally; making it a misdemeanor to fail to appear for court; setting forth criminal penalties; mandatory driver's 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 violations.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto four new sections, designated §8-34-2, §8-34-3, §8-34-4 and §8-34-5, all to read as follows:


§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 jail not more than fifteen days.
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 courts.

Any municipal court of a Class I municipality having a population in excess of forty-nine thousand people suspending a person's 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 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 Division 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. A violation may occur when a municipal judge finds a person guilty of an offense without evidence or when a municipal 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 having a population in excess of forty-eight thousand people
is personally liable to the defendant for one hundred dollars, in addition to returning 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 purpose.
The remedy herein provided is in addition to all other remedies provided by law. Nothing herein may be construed to limit the liability of any 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 municipal court. The bill also requires certain municipal courts to reinstate a driver's 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.

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