CHAPTER 51. COURTS AND THEIR OFFICERS.

ARTICLE 2. CIRCUIT COURTS; CIRCUIT JUDGES.

§51-2-1. Judicial circuits; terms of office; legislative findings and declarations; elections; terms of court.

(a) Beginning on the effective date of this subsection and until December 31, 2024, the state shall be divided into the following judicial circuits with the following number of judges:

(1) The counties of Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio shall constitute the first circuit and shall have four judges;

(2) The counties of Marshall, Tyler, and Wetzel shall constitute the second circuit and shall have two judges;

(3) The counties of Doddridge, Pleasants, and Ritchie shall constitute the third circuit and shall have one judge;

(4) The counties of Wood and Wirt shall constitute the fourth circuit and shall have three judges;

(5) The counties of Calhoun, Jackson, Mason, and Roane shall constitute the fifth circuit and shall have three judges;

(6) The county of Cabell shall constitute the sixth circuit and shall have four judges;

(7) The county of Logan shall constitute the seventh circuit and shall have two judges;

(8) The county of McDowell shall constitute the eighth circuit and shall have two judges;

(9) The county of Mercer shall constitute the ninth circuit and shall have three judges;

(10) The county of Raleigh shall constitute the tenth circuit and shall have four judges;

(11) The counties of Greenbrier and Pocahontas shall constitute the eleventh circuit and shall have two judges;

(12) The county of Fayette shall constitute the twelfth circuit and shall have two judges;

(13) The county of Kanawha shall constitute the thirteenth circuit and shall have seven judges;

(14) The counties of Braxton, Clay, Gilmer, and Webster shall constitute the fourteenth circuit and shall have two judges;

(15) The county of Harrison shall constitute the fifteenth circuit and shall have three judges;

(16) The county of Marion shall constitute the sixteenth circuit and shall have two judges;

(17) The county of Monongalia shall constitute the seventeenth circuit and shall have three judges;

(18) The county of Preston shall constitute the eighteenth circuit and shall have one judge;

(19) The counties of Barbour and Taylor shall constitute the nineteenth circuit and shall have two judges;

(20) The county of Randolph shall constitute the twentieth circuit and shall have one judge;

(21) The counties of Grant, Mineral, and Tucker shall constitute the twenty-first circuit and shall have two judges;

(22) The counties of Hampshire, Hardy, and Pendleton shall constitute the twenty-second circuit and shall have two judges;

(23) The counties of Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan shall constitute the twenty-third circuit and shall have six judges;

(24) The county of Wayne shall constitute the twenty-fourth circuit and shall have two judges;

(25) The counties of Lincoln and Boone shall constitute the twenty-fifth circuit and shall have two judges;

(26) The counties of Lewis and Upshur shall constitute the twenty-sixth circuit and shall have two judges;

(27) The county of Wyoming shall constitute the twenty-seventh circuit and shall have one judge;

(28) The county of Nicholas shall constitute the twenty-eighth circuit and shall have one judge;

(29) The county of Putnam shall constitute the twenty-ninth circuit and shall have two judges;

(30) The county of Mingo shall constitute the thirtieth circuit and shall have one judge; and

(31) The counties of Monroe and Summers shall constitute the thirty-first circuit and shall have one judge.

(b) Effective January 1, 2025, the state shall be divided into the following judicial circuits with the following number of judges who shall be elected by the voters of the entire circuit, but in separate divisions, as required by §3-5-6b of this code.

(1) The counties of Brooke, Hancock, and Ohio shall constitute the first circuit and shall have four judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(2) The counties of Marshall, Tyler, and Wetzel shall constitute the second circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(3) The counties of Doddridge, Pleasants, Ritchie, and Wirt shall constitute the third circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter: Provided, That no more than one judge shall be a resident of any county comprising the third circuit: Provided, however, That if the highest vote recipients in both divisions are also both residents of the same county, then the candidate with the highest overall number of votes shall be declared the winner of the division in which he or she ran: Provided, further, That the candidate who has the highest number of votes in the other division who is not a resident of the same county as the highest overall vote recipient shall be declared the winner of the division in which he or she ran;

(4) The county of Wood shall constitute the fourth circuit and shall have three judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(5) The counties of Calhoun, Jackson, Mason, and Roane shall constitute the fifth circuit and shall have three judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter: Provided, That Division 1 in the fifth circuit shall be for a judge who resides in Jackson County at the time of his or her filing and for the duration of his or her service, Division 2 in the fifth circuit shall be for a judge who resides in Mason County at the time of his or her filing and for the duration of his or her service, and Division 3 in the fifth circuit shall be for a judge who resides in either Calhoun County or Roane County at the time of his or her filing and for the duration of his or her service;

(6) The county of Cabell shall constitute the sixth circuit and shall have four judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(7) The county of Putnam shall constitute the seventh circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(8) The county of Kanawha shall constitute the eighth circuit and shall have eight judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(9) The counties of Boone and Lincoln shall constitute the ninth circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(10) The county of Wayne shall constitute the tenth circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(11) The counties of Logan and Mingo shall constitute the eleventh circuit and shall have three judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter: Provided, That Division 1 in the eleventh circuit shall be for a judge who will reside at the time of his or her filing and during his or her service in Mingo County, Division 2 in the eleventh circuit shall be for a judge who will reside at the time of his or her filing and during his or her service in Logan County, and Division 3 in the eleventh circuit shall be for a judge who will reside at the time of his or her filing and during his or her service in Logan County;

(12) The counties of McDowell and Wyoming shall constitute the twelfth circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter: Provided, That Division 1 in the twelfth circuit shall be for a judge who will reside at the time of his or her filing and during his or her service in McDowell County, and Division 2 in the twelfth circuit shall be for a judge who will reside at the time of his or her filing and during his or her service in Wyoming County;

(13) The county of Mercer shall constitute the thirteenth circuit and shall have three judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(14) The county of Raleigh shall constitute the fourteenth circuit and shall have four judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(15) The county of Fayette shall constitute the fifteenth circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(16) The county of Nicholas shall constitute the sixteenth circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(17) The counties of Braxton, Clay, Gilmer, and Webster shall constitute the seventeenth circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter: Provided, That no more than one judge shall be a resident of any county comprising the seventeenth circuit: Provided, however, That if the highest vote recipients in both divisions are also both residents of the same county, then the candidate with the highest overall number of votes shall be declared the winner of the division in which he or she ran: Provided, further, That the candidate who has the highest number of votes in the other division who is not a resident of the same county as the highest overall vote recipient shall be declared the winner of the division in which he or she ran;

(18) The counties of Lewis and Upshur shall constitute the eighteenth circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter: Provided, That Division 1 in the eighteenth circuit shall be for a judge who will reside at the time of his or her filing and during his or her service in Upshur County, and Division 2 in the eighteenth circuit shall be for a judge who will reside at the time of his or her filing and during his or her service in Lewis County;

(19) The county of Harrison shall constitute the nineteenth circuit and shall have three judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(20) The county of Marion shall constitute the twentieth circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(21) The county of Monongalia shall constitute the twenty-first circuit and shall have three judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(22) The counties of Preston and Tucker shall constitute the twenty-second circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(23) The counties of Barbour and Taylor shall constitute the twenty-third circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(24) The county of Randolph shall constitute the twenty-fourth circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(25) The counties of Grant and Mineral shall constitute the twenty-fifth circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(26) The counties of Hampshire, Hardy, and Pendelton shall constitute the twenty-sixth circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(27) The counties of Berkley and Morgan shall constitute the twenty-seventh circuit and shall have five judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(28) The county of Jefferson shall constitute the twenty-eighth circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter;

(29) The counties of Greenbrier and Pocahontas shall constitute the twenty-ninth circuit and shall have two judges, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter; and

(30) The counties of Monroe and Summers shall constitute the thirtieth circuit and shall have one judge, who shall be elected at the regularly scheduled election(s) to be held in the year 2024, and every eighth year thereafter.

(c) The Raleigh County circuit court shall be a court of concurrent jurisdiction with the remaining single-judge circuit where the sitting judge in the single-judge circuit is unavailable by reason of sickness, vacation, or other reason.

(d) Any judge in office on the effective date of the reenactment of this section shall continue as a judge of the circuit as constituted under prior enactments of this section, unless sooner removed or retired as provided by law, until December 31, 2024.

(e) The term of office of all circuit court judges shall be for eight years. The term of office for all circuit court judges elected during an election conducted in the year 2024, shall commence on January 1, 2025, and end on December 31, 2032.

(f) For election purposes, in every judicial circuit having two or more judges there shall be numbered divisions corresponding to the number of circuit judges in each circuit. Each judge shall be elected at large from the entire circuit. In each numbered division of a judicial circuit, the candidates for election shall be voted upon, and the votes cast for the candidates in each division shall be tallied separately from the votes cast for candidates in other numbered divisions within the circuit. The candidate receiving the highest number of the votes cast within a numbered division shall be elected, except as provided above with respect to the third and seventeenth circuits.

(g) The Supreme Court of Appeals shall, by rule, establish the terms of court of circuit judges.

§51-2-1. Judicial circuits; terms of office; legislative findings and declarations; elections; terms of court.

Bill History For §51-2-1

1991 Regular Session
House Bill 2908
1990 Regular Session
House Bill 2305
1979 Regular Session
Senate Bill 305
1977 Regular Session
Senate Bill 52
1976 Regular Session
Senate Bill 322
1971 Regular Session
House Bill 700
1967 Regular Session
Senate Bill 144
1960 Regular Session
House Bill 6
1959 Regular Session
House Bill 24
1951 Regular Session
Senate Bill 10
1951 Regular Session
Senate Bill 2
1951 Regular Session
Senate Bill 28
1951 Regular Session
Senate Bill 40
1941 Regular Session
Senate Bill 44