WEST virginia Legislature
2016 regular session
Senate Bill 267
By Senator Blair
Referred to the Committee on Government Organization; and then to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §6-6-7 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to modifying the procedure for removal of certain county, school district and municipal officers.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §6-6-7 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 6. REMOVAL OF OFFICERS.
§6-6-7. Procedure for removal of county, school district and municipal officers having fixed terms; appeal; grounds.
(a) Any person holding any county, school district or municipal office, including the office of a member of a Board of Education and the office of magistrate, the term or tenure of which office is fixed by law, whether the office be elective or appointive, except judges of the circuit courts, may be removed from such office in the manner provided in this section for official misconduct, malfeasance in office, incompetence, neglect of duty or gross immorality or for any of the causes or on any of the grounds provided by any other statute.
(b) Charges may be preferred:
(1) In the case of any
county officer, member of a district board of education or magistrate, by the
county, or of other tribunal in lieu thereof, any other officer of the county,
or by any number of persons other than such county officers, which number shall
the lesser of fifty or one ten percent of the total number of
voters of the county participating in the general election next preceding the
filing of such charges. If preferred by voters, the petition asserting such
charges shall be brought in the name of the voters of the county and shall
further designate one person by name who will serve as the voters’
(2) In the case of any
municipal officer, by the prosecuting attorney of the county wherein such
municipality, or the greater portion thereof, is located, any other elected
officer of the municipality, or by any number of persons other than the
prosecuting attorney or other municipal elective officer of the municipality
who are residents of the municipality, which number shall be
the lesser of
twenty-five or one ten percent of the total number of voters of the
municipality participating in the election at which the governing body was
chosen which election next preceded the filing of the petition. If preferred
by voters, the petition asserting such charges shall be brought in the name of
the voters of the municipality and shall further designate one person by name
who will serve as the voters’ representative.
(3) By the chief inspector and supervisor of public offices of the state where the person sought to be removed is entrusted by law with the collection, custody and expenditure of public moneys because of any misapplication, misappropriation or embezzlement of such moneys.
(c) The charges shall be
reduced to writing in the form of a petition
duly verified by at least one
of the persons bringing the same and all persons bringing the same shall
sign the petition and affirm they have reviewed and consented to the charges
contained therein, and the petition shall be entered of record by
the court, or the judge thereof in vacation, and a summons shall thereupon be
issued by the clerk of such court, together with a copy of the petition,
requiring the officer or person named therein to appear before the court, at
the courthouse of the county where such officer resides, and answer the charges
on a day to be named therein, which summons shall be served at least twenty
days before the return day thereof in the manner by which a summons commencing
a civil suit may be served.
The court, or judge thereof in vacation, or in the case of any multijudge circuit, the chief judge thereof, shall, without delay forward a copy of the petition to the Supreme Court of Appeals and shall ask for the impaneling or convening of a three-judge court consisting of three circuit judges of the state. The chief justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals shall without delay designate and appoint three circuit judges within the state, not more than one of whom shall be from the same circuit in which the petition is filed and, in the order of such appointment, shall designate the date, time and place for the convening of such three-judge court, which date and time shall not be less than twenty days from the date of the filing of the petition.
Such three-judge court shall, without a jury, hear the charges and all evidence offered in support thereof or in opposition thereto and upon satisfactory proof of the charges shall remove any such officer or person from office and place the records, papers and property of his or her office in the possession of some other officer or person for safekeeping or in the possession of the person appointed as hereinafter provided to fill the office temporarily. Any final order either removing or refusing to remove any such person from office shall contain such findings of fact and conclusions of law as the three-judge court shall deem sufficient to support its decision of all issues presented to it in the matter.
(d) An appeal from an order of such three-judge court removing or refusing to remove any person from office pursuant to this section may be taken to the Supreme Court of Appeals within thirty days from the date of entry of the order from which the appeal is taken. The Supreme Court of Appeals shall consider and decide the appeal upon the original papers and documents, without requiring the same to be printed and shall enforce its findings by proper writ. From the date of any order of the three-judge court removing an officer under this section until the expiration of thirty days thereafter, and, if an appeal be taken, until the date of suspension of such order, if suspended by the three-judge court and if not suspended, until the final adjudication of the matter by the Supreme Court of Appeals, the officer, commission or body having power to fill a vacancy in such office may fill the same by a temporary appointment until a final decision of the matter, and when a final decision is made by the Supreme Court of Appeals shall fill the vacancy in the manner provided by law for such office.
(e) In any case wherein the charges are preferred by the chief inspector and supervisor of public offices against the county commission or any member thereof or any county district or municipal officer, the proceedings under this section shall be conducted and prosecuted by the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the officer proceeded against resides, and on any appeal from the order of the three-judge court in any such case, the Attorney General of the state shall represent the people. When any municipal officer is proceeded against the solicitor or municipal attorney for such municipality may assist in the prosecution of the charges.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to alter the procedure for the removal of public officials.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.