West Virginia Code


Chapter 51     Entire Code



§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 specially provided.

§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 recognized.

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 $600. 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 vacation.

§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 $100.



Acts, 1992 Reg. Sess., Ch. 116.



Acts, 2015 Reg. Sess., Ch. 57.

§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 $100.



Acts, 2015 Reg. Sess., Ch. 57.



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, That upon 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 2017 Regular Session
The West Virginia Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.

This Web site is maintained by the West Virginia Legislature's Office of Reference & Information.  |  Terms of Use  |   Web Administrator   |   © 2019 West Virginia Legislature ***