Page images

5. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted. Penalties shall be proportioned to the character and degree of the offense. No person shall be transported out of, or forced to leave the State for any offense committed within the same; nor shall any person, in any criminal case, be compelled to be a witness against him. self, or be twice put in jeopardy of life or liberty for the same offense.

6. The right of the citizens to be secure in their houses, persons, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated. No warrant shall issue except upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place to be searched, or the person or thing to be seized.

7. No law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, shall be passed; but the Legislature may by suitable penalties, restain the publication or sale of obscene books, papers or pictures, and provide for the punishment of libel, and defamation of character, and for the recovery, in civil actions, by the aggrieved party, of suitable damages for such libel, or defamation.

8. In prosecutions, and civil suits for libel, the truth may be given in evidence; and if it shall appear to the jury that the matter charged as libelous, is true, and was published with good motives, and for justifiable ends, the verdict shall be for the defendant.

9. Private property shall not be taken or damaged for publio use, without just compensation; nor shall the same be taken by any company, incorporated for the purposes of internal improvement, until just compensation shall have been paid, or secured to be paid, to the owner; and when private property shall be taken, or damaged, for public use, or for the use of such corporations, the compensation to the owner shall be ascertained in such manner as may be prescribed by general law: Provided, That when required by either of the parties, such compensation shall be ascertained by an impartial jury of twelve freeholders.

10. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, and (the word and construed to mean or; see 27 W. Va., 275) the judgment of his peers.

Political tests, requiring persons, as a prerequisite to the enjoyment of their civil and political rights, to purge themselves by their own oaths, of past alleged offenses, are repugnant to the principles of free government, and are cruel and oppressive. No religious or political test oath shall be required as a prerequisite or qualification to vote, serve as a juror, sue, plead, appeal or pursue any profession or employment. Nor shall any person be deprived by law, of any right, or privilege, because of any act done prior to the passage of such law.

12. Standing armies in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty. The military shall be subordinate to the civil power; and no citizen, unless engaged in the military service of the State, shall be tried or punished by any military court, for any offense that is cognizable by the civil courts of the State. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war, except in the manner to be prescribed by law.

13. (As amended—see Acts 1879, p. 182). In suits at common law, where the value in controversy exceeds twenty dollars exclusive of interest and costs, the right of trial by jury, it required by either party, shall be preserved; and in such suit before a justice a jury may consist of six persons. No fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any case then accord. ing to the rules of the common law.

14. Trials of crimes, and of misdemeanors, unless herein otherwise provided, shall be by a jury of twelve men, public, without unreasonable delay, and in the county where the alleged offense was committed, unless upon petition of the accused, and for good cause shown, it is removed to some other county. In all such trials, the accused shall be fully and plainly informed of the character and cause of the accusation, and be confronted with the witnesses against him, and shall have the assistance of counsel, and a reasonable time to prepare for his defense; and there shall be awarded to him compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor.

15. No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever; nor shall any man be enforced, restrained, molested or burthened, in his body or goods, or otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions

or belief; but all men shall be free to profess, and by argument, to maintain their opinions in matters of religion; and the same shall, in no wise, affect, diminish or enlarge their civil capacities: and the Legislature shall not prescribe any religious test whatever, or confer any peculiar privileges or advantages on any sect or denomination, or pass any law requiring or authorizing any religious society, or the people of any district within this State, to levy on themselves, or others, any tax for the erection or repair of any house for public worship, or for the support of any church or ministry, but it shall be left free for every person to select his religious instructor, and to make for his support, such private contract as he shall please.

16. The right of the people to assemble in a peaceable man. ner, to consult for the common good, to instruct their representatives, or to apply for redress of grievances, shall be held inviolate.

17. The courts of this State shall be open, and every person, for an injury done to him, in his person, property or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law; and justice shall be administered without sale, denial or delay.

18. No conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate.

19. No hereditary emoluments, honors or privileges shall ever be granted or conferred in this State.

20. Free government and the blessings of liberty can be preserved to any people only by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.


Elections and Officers. 1. The male citizens of the State shall be entitled to vote at all elections held within the counties in which they respectively reside; but no person who is a minor, or of unsound mind, or a pauper, or who is under conviction of treason, felony, or bribery in an election, or who has not been a resident of the State for one year, and of the county in which he offers to vote, for sixty days next preceding such offer, shall be permitted to vote while such disability continues; but no person in the military, naval or marine service of the United States shall be deemed a resident of this State by reason of being stationed therein.

2. In all elections by the people, the mode of voting shall be by ballot; but the voter shall be left free to vote by either open, sealed or secret ballot, as he may elect.

3. No voter, during the continuance of an election at which he is entitled to vote, or during the time necessary and convenient for going to and returning from the same, shall be subject to arrest upon civil process, or be compelled to attend any court, or judicial proceeding, as suitor, juror or witness; or to work upon the public roads; or except in time of war or public danger, to render military service.

4. No person, except citizens entitled to vote, shall be elected or appointed to any State, county or municipal office; but the Governor and Judges must have attained the age of thirty, and the Attorney-General and Senators the age of twenty-five years, at the beginning of their respective terms of service; and must have been citizens of the State for five years next preceding their election or appointment, or to be citizens at the time this Con. stitution goes into operation.

5. Every person elected or appointed to any office, before proceeding to exercise the authority, or discharge the duties thereof, shall make oath or affirmation that he will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this State, and that he will faithfully discharge the duties of his said office to the best of his skill and judgment; and no other oath, declaration, or test shall be required as a qualification, unless herein otherwise provided.

6. All officers elected or appointed under this Constitution, may, unless in cases herein otherwise provided for, be removed from office for official misconduct, incompetence, neglect of duty or gross immorality, in such manner as may be prescribed by general laws, and unless so removed they shall continue to discharge the duties of their respective offices until their successors are elected, or appointed, and qualified.

7. (As amended-See Acts 1883, p. 137.) The general elections of State and county officers, and of members of the Legislature, shall be held on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, until otherwise provided by law. The terms of such

officers, not elected, or appointed to fill a vacancy, shall, unless herein otherwise provided, begin on the first day of January; and of the members of the Legislature, on the first day of December next succeeding their election. Elections to fill vacancies, shall be for the unexpired term. When vacancies occur prior to any general election, they shall be filled by appointments, in such manner as may be prescribed herein, or by general law, which appointments shall expire at such time after the next general election as the person so elected to fill such vacancy shall be qualified.

8. The Legislature, in cases not provided for in this Constitution, shall prescribe, by general laws, the terms of office, powers, duties and compensation of all public officers and agents, and the manner in which they shall be elected, appointed and removed.

9. Any officer of the State may be impeached for maladministration, corruption, incompetency, gross immorality, neglect of duty, or any high crime or misdemeanor. The House of Dele. gates shall have the sole power of impeachment. The Senate shall have the sole power to try impeachments, and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the members elected thereto. When sitting as a court of impeachment, the President of the Supreme Court of Appeals, or, if from any cause it be improper for him to act, then any other judge of that court, to be designated by it, shall preside; and the Senators shall be on oath or affirmation, to do justice according to law and evidence. Judgment in cases of impeachment, shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office of honor, trust or profit, under the State; but the party convicted shall be liable to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment, according to law. The Senate may sit during the recess of the Legislature for the trial of impeachments.

10. Any citizen of this State, who shall, after the adoption of this Constitution, either in, or out of the State, fight a duel with deadly weapons or send or accept a challenge so to do, or who shall act as second or knowingly aid, or assist in such duel, shall, ever thereafter, be incapable of holding any office of honor, trust or profit in this State.

11. The Legislature shall prescribe the manner of conducting and making returns of elections, and of determining con

« PreviousContinue »