VIRGINIA. The name of one of the original states of the United States of
America. This colony was chartered in 1606, by James the First, and this
charter was afterwards altered in 1609 and 1612; and in 1624 the charter was
declared to be forfeited under proceedings under a writ of quo warranto.
After the fall of the charter, Virginia continued to be a royal province
until the period of the American Revolution.
2. A constitution, or rather bill of rights, was adopted by a
convention of the representatives of the good people of Virginia, on the
12th day of June, 1776. An amended constitution or form of government for
Virginia was adopted January 14, 1830, which has been superseded by the
present constitution, which was adopted August 1, 1851.
3. The legislative, executive, and judiciary departments, shall be
separate and distinct, so that neither exercise the powers properly
belonging to either of the others; nor shall any person exercise the powers
of more than one of them at the same time, except that justices of the peace
shall be eligible to either house of assembly. Art 2.
4.-Sec. 1. The legislature is composed of two branches, the house of
delegates and the senate, which together are called the general assembly of
5.-1. The house of delegates will be considered with reference, 1. To
the qualifications of the electors. 2. The qualifications of members. 3. The
number of members. 4. Time of their election.
6.-1st. Every white male citizen of the commonwealth, of the age of
twenty-one years, who has been a resident of the state for two years, and of
the county, city, or town where he offers to vote for twelve months next
preceding an election, and no other person, shall be qualified to vote for
members of the general assembly, and all officers elective by the people:
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. And no person shall have the right to vote, who is of unsound mind,
or a pauper, or a non-commissioned officer, soldier, seaman, or marine in
the service of the United States, or who has been convicted of bribery in an
election, or of any infamous offence.
7.-2. The general assembly at its first session after the; adoption of
this constitution, and afterwards as occasion may require, shall cause every
city or town, the white population of which exceeds five thousand, to be
laid off into convenient wards, and a separate place of voting to be
established in each, and thereafter no inhabitant of such city or town shall
be allowed to vote except in the ward in which be resides.
8.-3. No voter, during the time for holding any election at which he is
entitled to vote, shall be compelled to perform military service, except in
time of war or public danger; to work upon the public roads, or to attend
any court as suitor, juror or witness; and no voter shall be subject to
arrest under any civil process during his attendance at elections, or in
going to and returning from them.
9.-4. In all elections votes shall be given openly, or viva voce, and
not by ballot. But dumb persons, entitled to suffrage, may vote by ballot.
10.-2d. Any person may be elected a delegate who shall have attained
the age of twenty-one years, and shall be actually a resident within the
city, county, town, or election district, qualified by this constitution to
vote for members of the general assembly: but no person holding a lucrative
office, no minister of the gospel, or priest of any religious denomination,
no salaried officer of any banking corporation or company, and no attorney
for the commonwealth shall be capable of being elected a member of either
house of assembly. The removal of any person elected to neither branch of
the general assembly, from the county, city, town, or district for which he
was elected, shall vacate his office. Art. 4, s. 5, Sec. 7.
11.-3d. The house of delegates is to consist of one hundred and fifty-
two members. Art. 4, Sec. 2.
12.-4th. The members of the general assembly are to be chosen
biennially. Art. 4, Sec. 2.
13.-2. The senate will be considered in the same order that the house
of delegates has been. 1. The qualifications of electors are the same as for
electors of delegates. 2. Any person may be elected a senator who has
attained the age of twenty-five years, and shall be actually a resident
within the district, and qualified to vote for members of the general
assembly. The other qualifications are the, same as those for delegates.
Art. 4, s. 5, Sec. 7. 3. The number of senators is fifty. Art. 4, Sec. 3.
4. Senators are to be elected for the term of four years. Upon the
assembling of the senators so elected, they shall be divided into two equal
classes to be numbered by lot. The term of service of the senators of the
first class shall expire with that of the delegates first elected under this
constitution; and of the senators of the second class, at the expiration of
two years thereafter; and this alternation shall, be continued, so that one-
half of the senators may be chosen every second year. Art. 4, Sec. 3.
14.-1. The chief executive power of this commonwealth shall be vested
in a governor. He shall hold the office for the term of four years, to
commence on the ____ day of _______ next succeeding his election, and be
ineligible to the same office for the term next succeeding that for which he
was elected, and to any other office during his term of service.
15.-2. The governor shall be elected by the voters at the times and
places of choosing members of the general assembly. Returns of the election
shall be transmitted under seal by the proper officers to the secretary of
the commonwealth, who shall deliver them to the speaker of the house of
delegates, on the first day of the next session of the general assembly. The
speaker of the house of delegates shall within one week thereafter, in the
presence of a majority of the senate and house of delegates, open the said
returns, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the highest
number of votes shall be declared elected; but if two or more shall have the
highest and an equal number, of votes, one of them shall be chosen governor
by the joint vote of the two houses of the general assembly. Contested
elections for governor shall be decided by a like vote, and the mode of
proceeding in such cases shall be prescribed by law.
16.-3. No person shall be eligible to the office of governor unless he
has attained the age of thirty years, is a native citizen of the United
States, and has been a citizen of Virginia, for five years next preceding
17.-4. The governor shall reside at the seat of government; shall
receive five thousand dollars for each year of his service, and, while in
office, shall receive no other emolument from this or any other government.
18.-5. He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed;
communicate to the general assembly at every session the condition of the
commonwealth; recommend to their consideration such measures as he may deem
expedient; and convene the general assembly on application of a majority of
the members of both houses thereof, or when in his opinion the interest of
the commonwealth may require it. He shall be commander-in-chief of the land
and naval forces of the state; have power to embody the militia to repel
invasion, suppress insurrection and enforce the execution of the laws;
conduct, either in person or in such other manner as shall be prescribed by
law, all intercourse with other and foreign states; and, during the recess
of the general assembly, fill pro tempore all vacancies in those offices for
which the constitution and laws make no provision but his appointments to
such vacancies shall be by commissions to expire at the end of thirty days
after the commencement of the next session of the general assembly. He shall
have power to remit fines and penalties in such cases and under such rules
and regulations as may be prescribed by law; and, except when the
prosecution has been carried on by the house of delegates or the law shall
otherwise particularly direct, to grant reprieves and pardons after
conviction, and to commute capital punishment. But be shall communicate to
the general assembly at each session, the particulars of every case of fine
or penalty remitted, of reprieve or pardon granted and of punishment
commuted, with his reasons for remitting, granting or commuting the same.
19.-6. He may require information in writing from the officers in the
executive department upon any subject relating to the duties of their
respective offices; and may also require the opinion in writing of the
attorney-general upon any question of law connected with his official
20.-7. Commissions and grants shall run in the name of the commonwealth
of Virginia, and be attested by the governor with the seal of the
21.-8. A lieutenant governor shall be elected at the same time, and for
the same term, as the governor: and his qualification and the manner of his
election in all respects shall be the same.
22.-9. In case of the removal of the governor from office, or of his
death, failure to qualify, resignation, removal from the state, or inability
to discharge the powers and duties of the office, the said office, with its
compensation, shall devolve upon the lieutenant governor; and the general
assembly shall provide by law for the discharge of the executive functions
in other necessary cases.
23.-10 The lieutenant governor shall be president of the senate, but
shall have no vote; and while. acting as such, shall receive a compensation
equal to that allowed to the speaker of the house of delegates. Art. 5, Sec.
24.-Sec. 3. The judicial powers are regulated by the sixth article of
the constitution, as follows:
25.-1. There shall be a supreme court of appeals, district courts and
circuit courts. The jurisdiction of these tribunals, and of the judges
thereof, except so far as the same is conferred by this constitution, shall,
be regulated by law.
26.-2. The state shall be divided into twenty-one judicial circuits,
ten districts and five sections.
27.-3. The general assembly may, at the end of eight years after the
adoption of this constitution, and thereafter at intervals of eight years,
rearrange the said circuits, districts and sections, and place any number of
circuits in a district, and of districts in a section; but each circuit
shall be altogether in one district, and each district in one section; and
there shall not be less than two districts and four circuits in a section,
and the number of sections shall not be increased or diminished.
28.-6 For each circuit, a judge shall be elected by the voters thereof,
who shall hold his office for the term of eight years, unless sooner removed
in the manner prescribed by this constitution. He shall at the time of his
election be at least thirty years of age, and during his continuance in
office, shall reside in the circuit of which he is judge.
29.-7. A circuit court shall be held at least twice a year by the judge
of each circuit, in every county and corporation thereof, wherein a circuit
court is now or may hereafter be established. But the judges in the same
district may be required or authorized to hold the courts of their
respective circuits alternately, and a judge of one circuit to hold a court
in any other circuit.
30.-8. A district court shall be held, at least once a year in every
district, by the judges of the circuits constituting the section and the
judges of the supreme court of appeals for the section of which the district
forms a part, any three of whom may hold a court; but no judge shall sit or
decide upon any appeal taken from his own decision. The judge of the supreme
court of appeals of one section, may sit in the district courts of another
section, when required or authorized by law to do so.
31.-9. The district courts shall not have original jurisdiction, except
in cases of habeas corpus, mandamus and prohibition.
32.-10. For each section, a judge shall be elected by the voters
thereof, who shall hold his office for the term of twelve years, unless
sooner removed in the manner prescribed by this constitution. He shall at
the time of his election be at least thirty-five years of age, and during
his continuance in office, reside in the section for which he is elected.
33.-11. The supreme court of appeals shall consist of the five judges
so elected, any three of whom may hold a court. It shall have appellate
jurisdiction only, except in cases of, habeas corpus, mandamus and
prohibition. It shall not have jurisdiction in civil causes where the matter
in controversy, exclusive of costs, is less, in value or amount than five
hundred dollars, except in controversies concerning the title or boundaries
of land, the; probate of a will, the appointment or qualification of a
personal representative, guardian, committee or curator; or concerning a
mill, road, way, ferry or landing, or the right of a corporation, or of a
county to levy tolls or taxes; and except in cases of habeas corpus,
mandamus and prohibition, and cases involving freedom, or the
constitutionality of a law.
34.-12. Special courts of appeals, to consist of not less than three
nor more than five judges, may be formed of the judges of the supreme court
of appeals, and of the circuit courts, or any of them, to try any cases
remaining on the dockets of the present court of appeals when the judges
thereof cease to hold their offices; or to try any cases which may be on the
dockets of the supreme court of appeals established by this constitution, in
respect to which a majority of the judges of said court may be so situated
as to make it improper for them to sit on the bearing thereof.
35.-13 When a judgment or decree is reversed or affirmed by the supreme
court of appeals, the reasons therefor shall be stated in writing, and
preserved with the record of the case.
36.-14. Judges shall be commissioned by the governor, and shall receive
fixed and adequate salaries which shall not be diminished during their
continuance in office. The salary of a judge of the supreme court of appeals
shall not be less than three thousand dollars and that of a judge of a
circuit court not less than two thousand dollars per annum, except that of
the judge of the fifth circuit, which shall not be less than fifteen hundred
dollars per annum; and each shall receive a reasonable allowance for
37.-15. No judge during his term of service shall hold any other
office, appointment or public trust, and the acceptance thereof shall vacate
his judicial office; nor shall he during such term, of within one year
thereafter, be eligible to any political office.
38.-16. No election of judge shall be held within thirty days of the
time of holding any election of electors of president and vice-president of
the United States, of members of congress or of the general assembly.
39.-17. Judges may be removed from office by a concurrent vote of both
houses of the general assembly, but a majority of all the members elected to
each house must concur in such vote; and the cause of removal shall be
entered. on the journal of each house. The judge, against whom the general
assembly may be about to proceed, shall receive notice thereof, accompanied
by a copy of the causes alleged for his removal, at least twenty days before
the day on which either house of the general assembly shall act thereupon.
40.-22. At every election of a governor, an attorney-general shall be
elected by the voters of the commonwealth, for the term of four years. He
shall be commissioned by the governor, shall perform such duties and receive
such compensation as may be prescribed by law, and be removable in the
manner prescribed for the removal of judges.
41.-23. Judges and all other officers, whether elected or appointed,
shall continue to discharge the duties of their respective offices after
their terms of service, have expired, until their successors are qualified.
42.-24. Writs shall run in the name of the commonwealth of Virginia and
be attested by the clerks of the several courts. Indictments shall conclude,
against the peace and dignity of the commonwealth.
43.-25. There shall be in each county of the commonwealth, a county
court, which shall be held monthly, by not less than three, nor more than,
five justices, except when the law shall require the presence of a greater
44.-26. The jurisdiction of the said court shall be the same as that of
the existing county courts, except so far as it is modified by this
constitution or may be changed by law.
45.-27. Each county shall be laid off into districts, as nearly equal
as may be in territory and population. In each district there shall be
elected by the voters thereof, four justices of the peace, who shall be
commissioned by the governor, reside in their respective districts, and hold
their office for the term of four years. The justices so elected shall
choose one of their own body, who shall be the presiding justice of the
county court, and whose duty it shall be to attend each term of said court.
The other justices shall be classified by law for the performance of their
duties in court.
46.-28. The justices shall receive for their services in court, a per
diem compensation, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the country
treasury; and shall not receive any fee or emolument for other judicial