HB842: Removal of public officers; petition requirements, signature requirements.

HOUSE BILL NO. 842

Offered January 8, 2020
Prefiled January 7, 2020
A BILL to amend and reenact §§ 24.2-233 and 24.2-235 of the Code of Virginia, relating to removal of public officers; petition requirements; signature requirements.
Patron-- Krizek (By Request)

Committee Referral Pending

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That §§ 24.2-233 and 24.2-235 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 24.2-233. Removal of elected and certain appointed officers by courts.

Upon petition, a circuit court may remove from office any elected officer or officer who has been appointed to fill an elective office, residing within the jurisdiction of the court:

1. For neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties when that neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office;

2. Upon conviction of a misdemeanor pursuant to Article 1 (§ 18.2-247 et seq.) or Article 1.1 (§ 18.2-265.1 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 18.2 and after all rights of appeal have terminated involving the:

a. Manufacture, sale, gift, distribution, or possession with intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute a controlled substance or marijuana;

b. Sale, possession with intent to sell, or placing an advertisement for the purpose of selling drug paraphernalia; or

c. Possession of any controlled substance or marijuana and such conviction under subdivision a, b, or c has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of such office;

3. Upon conviction, and after all rights of appeal have terminated, of a misdemeanor involving a "hate crime" as that term is defined in § 52-8.5 when the conviction has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of such office; or

4. Upon conviction, and after all rights of appeal have terminated, of sexual battery in violation of § 18.2-67.4, attempted sexual battery in violation of subsection C of § 18.2-67.5, peeping or spying into dwelling or enclosure in violation of § 18.2-130, consensual sexual intercourse with a child 15 years of age or older in violation of § 18.2-371, or indecent exposure of himself or procuring another to expose himself in violation of § 18.2-387, and such conviction has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of such office.

The petition must be signed by a number of registered voters who reside within the jurisdiction of the officer equal to ten 25 percent of the total number of votes cast at the last election for the office that the officer holds. Such signatures shall be collected within a period of 60 days. A registered voter signing the petition shall not be required to sign under penalties of perjury.

Any person removed from office under the provisions of subdivision 2, 3, or 4 may not be subsequently subject to the provisions of this section for the same criminal offense.

§ 24.2-235. Procedure.

A petition for the removal of an officer shall state with reasonable accuracy and detail the grounds or reasons for removal and shall be signed by the person or persons making filing it with the court under penalties of perjury. The circuit court shall not dismiss the petition solely because of an error or omission in the form of the petition relating to its statement of the grounds or reasons for removal if such error or omission is not material in determining whether the statement of the grounds or reasons for removal provides a reasonable basis under § 24.2-233 to consider the removal of the officer.

As soon as the petition is filed with the court, the court shall issue a rule requiring the officer to show cause why he should not be removed from office, the rule alleging in general terms the cause or causes for such removal. The rule shall be returnable in not less than five nor more than ten days and shall be served upon the officer with a copy of the petition. Upon return of the rule duly executed, unless good cause is shown for a continuance or postponement to a later day in the term, the case shall be tried on the day named in the rule and take precedence over all other cases on the docket. If upon trial it is determined that the officer is subject to removal under the provisions of § 24.2-233, he shall be removed from office.