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21. Such parts of the common law, and of the laws of this State as are in force when this article goes into operation, and are not repugnant thereto, shall be and continue the law of the State until altered or repealed by the Legislature. All civil and criminal suits and proceedings pending in the former circuit courts of this State, shall remain and be proceeded in before the circuit courts of the counties in which they were pending.
County Courts. 22. There shall be in each county of the State a county court, composed of three commissioners, and two of said commissioners shall be a quorum for the transaction of business. It shall hold four regular sessions in each year, at such times as may be fixed upon and entered of record by the said court. Provisions may be made by law for holding special sessions of said court.
23. The commissioners shall be elected by the voters of the county, and hold their office for the term of six years, except that at the first meeting of said commissioners they shall desig. nate by lot, or otherwise, in such manner as they may determine, one of their number, who shall hold his office for the term of two years, one for four years, and one for six years, so that one shall be elected every two years. But no two of said commissioners shall be elected from the same magisterial district. And if two or more persons residing in the same district shall receive the greater number of votes cast at any election, then only the one of such persons receiving the highest number shall be declared elected, and the person living in another district, who shall receive the next highest number of votes, shall be declared elected. Said commissioners shall annually elect one of their number as President, and each shall receive two dollars per day for his services in court, to be paid out of the county treasury.
24. The county courts, through their clerks, shall have the custody of all deeds and other papers presented for record in their counties, and the same shall be preserved therein, or otherwise disposed of, as now is or may be prescribed by law. They shall have jurisdiction in all matters of probate, the appointment and qualification of personal representatives, guardians, committees, curators, and the settlement of their accounts,
and in all matters relating to apprentices. They shall also, under such regulations as may be prescribed by law, have the superintendence and administration of the internal police and fiscal affairs of their counties, including the establishment and regulation of roads, ways, bridges, public landings, ferries and mills, with authority to lay and disburse the county levies. Provided, That no license for the sale of intoxicating liquors in any incorporated city, town or village, shall be granted without the consent of the municipal authorities thereof, first had and obtained. They shall, in all cases of contest, judge of the election, qualification and returns of their own members, and of all county and district officers, subject to such regulations, by appeal or otherwise, as may be prescribed by law. Such courts may exercise such other powers, and perform such other duties, not of a judicial nature, as may be prescribed by law. And provision may be made, under such regulations as may be prescribed by law, for the probate of wills, and for the appointment and qualification of personal representatives, guardians, committees and curators during the recess of the regular ses. sions of the county court. Such tribunals as have been heretofore established by the Legislature under and by virtue of the thirty-fourth section of the eighth article of the Constitution of one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two, for police and fiscal purposes, shall until otherwise provided by law, remain and continue as at present constituted in the counties in which they have been respectively established, and shall be and act as to police and fiscal matters in lieu of the county court created by this article until otherwise provided by law. And, until otherwise provided by law such clerk as is mentioned in the twenty-sixth section of this article, shall exercise any powers and discharge any duties heretofore conferred on, or required oi, any court or tribunal established for judicial purposes under the said article and section of the Constitution of one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two, or the clerk of such court or tribunal respectively, respecting the recording and preservation of deeds and other papers presented for record, matters of probate, the appointment and qualification of personal representatires, guardians, committees, curators and the settlement of their accounts, and in all matters relating to apprentices.
25. All actions, suits and proceedings not embraced in the next preceding section, pending in a county court when this article takes effect, together with the records and papers pertain. ing thereto, as well as all records and papers pertaining to such actions, suits and proceedings, as have already been disposed of by said courts, shall be transmitted to and filed with the clerk of the circuit court of the county, to which office all process outstanding at the time this article goes into operation shall be returned; and said clerk shall have the same power and shall perform the same duties in relation to such records, papers and proceedings as were vested in and required of the clerk of the county court on the day before this article shall take effect. All such actions, suits and proceedings so pending as aforesaid, shall be docketed, proceeded in, tried, heard and determined in all respects by the circuit court, as if such suits and proceedings had originated in said court.
26. The voters of each county shall elect a clerk of the county court, whose term of office shall be six years. His duties and compensation and the manner of his removal shall be prescribed by law. But the clerks of said courts, now in office, shall remain therein for the term for which they have been elected, unless sooner removed therefrom in the manner prescribed by law.
27. Each county shall be laid off into districts, not less than three nor more than ten in number, and as nearly equal as may be in territory and population. There shall be elected in each district containing a population not exceeding twelve hundred, one justice of the peace, and if the population exceeds that number, two such justices shall be elected therein. Every justice shall reside in the district for which he was elected and hold his office for the term of four years, unless sooner removed in the manner prescribed by law. The districts as they now exist shall remain till changed by the county court.
28. The civil jurisdiction of a justice of the peace shall extend to actions of assumpsit, debt, detinue and trover, if the amount claimed, exclusive of interest, does not exceed three hundred dollars. The jurisdiction of justices of the peace shall extend throughout their county; they shall be conservators of the peace and have such jurisdiction and powers in criminal cases as may be prescribed by law. And justices of the peace shall have authority to take the acknowledgment of deeds and other writings, administer oaths and take and certify depositions. And the Legislature may give to justices such additional civil jurisdiction and powers within their respective counties as may be deemed expedient, under such regulations and restrictions as may be prescribed by general law, except that in suits to recover money or damages their jurisdiction and powers shall in no case exceed three hundred dollars. Appeal shall be allowed from judgments of justices of the peace in such manner as may be prescribed by law.
29. The Legislature shall, upon the application of any county, reform, alter or modify the county court established by this article in such county, and in lieu thereof, with the assent of a majority of the voters of such county voting at an election, create another tribunal for the transaction of the business required to be performed by the county court created by this article; and in such case all the provisions of this article in relation to the county court shall be applicable to the tribunal established in lieu of said court. And when such tribunal has been established it shall continue to act in lieu of the county court until otherwise provided by law.
30. The office of commissioner and justice of the peace shall be deemed incompatible. Vacancies in the office of commissioner, clerk of the county court and justices of the peace shall be filled by the county court of the county until the next general election.
County Organization. 1. The voters of each county shall elect a Surveyor of Lands, a Prosecuting Attorney, a Sheriff, and one and not more than two Assessors, who shall hold their respective offices for the term of four years.
2. There shall also be elected in each district of the county, by the voters thereof, one constable, and if the population of any district shall exceed twelve hundred, an additional constable, whose term of office shall be four years, and whose powers as such shall extend throughout their county. The assessors shall, with the advice and consent of the county court, have the power to appoint one or more assistants. Coroners, overseers of the
poor and surveyors of roads shall be appointed by the county court. The foregoing officers, except the prosecuting attorneys, shall reside in the county and district for which they shall be respectively elected.
3. The same person shall not be elected sheriff for two consecutive full terms; nor shall any person who acted as his deputy be elected successor to such sheriff, nor shall any sheriff act as deputy of his successor; nor shall he, during his term of service, or within one year thereafter, be eligible to any other office. The retiring sheriff shall finish all business remaining in his hands, at the expiration of his term; for which purpose his commission and official bond shall remain in force. The duties of the office of sheriff shall be performed by him in person, or under his superintendence.
4. The presidents of the county courts, the justices of the peace, sheriffs, prosecuting attorneys, clerks of the circuit and of the county courts, and all other county officers shall be subject to indictment for malfeasance, misfeasance, or of neglect of official duty, and on conviction thereof their offices shall become vacant.
5. The Legislature shall provide for commissioning such of the officers herein mentioned, as it may deem proper, not provided for in this Constitution, and may require any class of them to give bond with security for the faithful discharge of their respective offices.
6. It shall further provide for the compensation, the duties and responsibilities of such officers, and may provide for the appointment of their deputies and assistants by general laws.
7. The president of the county court and every justice and constable shall be a conservator of the peace throughout his county.
8. No new county shall hereafter be formed in this State with an area of less than four hundred square miles, nor with a population of less than six thousand; nor shall any county, from which a new county, or part thereof, shall be taken, be reduced in area below four hundred square miles, nor in popula. tion below six thousand. Vor shall a new county be formed without the consent of a majority of the voters residing within the boundary of the proposed new county, and voting on the question.