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Civil Government of Virginia by William F. Fox

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A personal representative is one who executes a will (carries out
the directions contained in it) or administers the estate or
property of a deceased person. A guardian in law is one appointed
by a court to take charge of and administer the property of
persons who are not of sufficient age or understanding to manage
their own affairs. A committee in law is one entrusted with the
care of an idiot or a lunatic. Used in this sense, the word is
pronounced com-mit-tee. A curator is one appointed to act as
guardian of the estate of a person not legally competent
(qualified) to manage his property, or of the estate of an

To levy means to raise or collect. Each county in the State has
the right to levy tolls and taxes to pay the cost of carrying on
its government. The constitutionality of a law is its agreement
with the Constitution. The Supreme Court of Appeals has the
jurisdiction to decide, when appealed to, whether any law is
constitutional or not--that is, whether or not it is allowed by
the Constitution of the State of Virginia.

Circuit Courts.

There are twenty-four judicial circuits, with a judge for each
circuit. The judge must reside in the circuit for which he is
elected; shall not hold any other office or public trust; shall
not practice law. Elected by the General Assembly for terms of
eight years. Salary, $2,500, except the judge of the circuit which
includes the city of Richmond, who receives $3,500. Circuit judges
are entitled to mileage.

Terms. There shall be at least five terms in each county and two
terms in each year in each city except in cities of the second
class that have their own courts.

For explanation of circuits, see under Attorney-General, page 30.

The term of a court is its regular session, or sitting, for the
hearing and trying of cases. The word court means not only the
room or hall in which a judge sits to try cases, but it means the
judge while sitting in court, or a number of judges sitting in
court together. An order of the court means an order given
officially by a judge.

Jurisdiction. Shall have original jurisdiction for the trial of
all presentments, informations and indictments for felonies; of
all cases in chancery and civil cases at law, except cases to
recover personal property or money of less value than $20; of all
cases for the recovery of fees, penalties, etc.; of questions
regarding the validity of ordinances and by-laws of a corporation;
or involving the right to levy taxes; and all cases civil or
criminal when an appeal may be had to the Supreme Court of
Appeals. Also, of all proceedings by quo warranto; and may issue
writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, and certiorari to
all inferior tribunals; issue writs of mandamus in all matters
arising from or appertaining to the action of the board of
supervisors; determines the probate of wills and testamentary
cases; may appoint guardians, curators, commissioners in chancery,

Appellate jurisdiction of all cases, civil and criminal, where an
appeal writ of error or supersedeas may be taken or allowed by
said courts from or to the judgment or proceedings of an inferior
tribunal. But no circuit court shall have any original or
appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases arising within the
territorial limits of any city wherein there is established by law
a corporation or hustings court.

Original jurisdiction means jurisdiction from the beginning of a
case--that is, power to take up and try it when it is first
entered in law. The Supreme Court of Appeals has not this power.
It can deal only with cases that have already been tried in some
other court. But the circuit courts may try cases on their first
hearing. This is original jurisdiction. They have also general
jurisdiction--that is, they can try all cases in general in which
the law is violated, or the protection of the law is sought or

A presentment is a notice taken by a grand jury of any offence or
crime of which they may have knowledge. (For grand jury, see page
70.) The notice is a written statement of the facts, and the
statement is sent or presented to the court in which the case may
be tried.

After the presentment is made, the commonwealth's attorney
prepares an indictment. This is a written charge against the
accused person, with full particulars of the crime or offence
alleged. The grand jury next make an investigation of the
indictment by examining witnesses on oath, and if they think that
the evidence is sufficient to prove the charge against the
accused, they write on the indictment the words a true bill.

This does not mean that the person is found guilty, but that the
grand jury find the case against the accused is so strong that it
ought to be tried by a judge and jury, and so the person is
brought into court and tried. But if the grand jury find that
there is not evidence enough to convict the accused, they mark or
indorse the indictment with the words not a true bill, and then
there is no trial in court.

An information is an action or prosecution for some offence
against the government, and it is based not on a grand jury
indictment, but on a statement or complaint made on oath by a
competent witness.

In chancery means in equity--that is, in natural right. A court of
chancery may give a decision or judgment on the ground of plain,
common justice between man and man, where there may be no statute
law that bears upon the case. This is what is called equity.
Personal property is movable property, such as furniture, money,
etc. Immovable property, such as land or houses, is called real
estate. Circuit courts have no jurisdiction for the recovering of
personal property of value less than $20, the reason manifestly
being that the cost of a circuit court trial of such a case might
amount to a much greater sum than the sum in dispute.

The circuit courts have appellate jurisdiction in cases appealed
from inferior tribunals--that is, lower courts. (For civil case,
see under General Assembly, page 21.) A criminal case as
distinguished from a civil case is one in which a person is
charged with a crime or felony. A writ of error is an appeal
ordered on the ground of an error or mistake in the proceedings of
a court, either as to a matter of fact or a point of law. A
supersedeas is a writ, or order, to suspend the powers of an
officer, or to stay--that is, stop--action under another writ.

Quo warranto is a Latin phrase, the English of which is by what
warrant or authority. In law it means a writ brought before a
court to inquire by what authority a person or corporation
exercises certain powers. For example, if a person assume the
duties or work of a public office, and it is believed that he has
no legal right to the office, proceedings in quo warranto may be
taken against him.

Certiorari is a writ from a superior court in a certain case,
ordering the removal of the case from an inferior court, so that
more speedy justice may be obtained or that errors may be
corrected. (For charters of incorporation, see under Secretary of
the Commonwealth, page 33.) A receiver is a person appointed by a
court to receive, or hold in trust, property about which law
proceedings are being taken. Commissioners in chancery are
commissioners or officers appointed from time to time by circuit
court judges to examine and report upon accounts (statements
relating to money) presented as evidence in the trial of a case.

Testamentary cases are cases about wills. A testament is a written
paper in which a person declares (or testifies) how he wishes his
property to be disposed of after his death. Such a paper is
sometimes called a last will and testament. An injunction is an
order of a court requiring a person to do or refrain from doing
certain acts.

The Circuit Court of the City of Richmond possesses all the powers
of other circuit courts except as to those matters the
jurisdiction of which has been exclusively invested in the
Chancery or the Hustings Court. It shall also have jurisdiction of
all such suits, motions, prosecutions, and matters and things as
are specially cognizable by it, in which the Commonwealth,
represented by certain public officers or public boards, is a

The Circuit Court of the City of Richmond has the same power as
other circuit courts except in matters the jurisdiction of which
belongs EXCLUSIVELY to the Hustings Court, and the Chancery Court
of the City of Richmond--that is, belongs to them and to no other
court. (For explanation as to these matters, see under Hustings
Court and under Chancery Court.)

A suit or lawsuit is an action or proceeding--in a court of law to
recover a right, or to obtain justice in a matter under dispute. A
suit at law is sometimes also called a cause. A motion (in law) is
a carrying on of a suit or action in court to obtain some right,
or to punish persons who have committed crime. Cognizable means
liable to be taken notice of. Matters that are cognizable by a
court are cases that it is fit and proper for it to hear, try, and

A party to a suit is one of the two opposing persons or sides
engaged in it. In every lawsuit there are at least two parties.
The party or person that brings on the suit or action is called
the plaintiff, because he makes a complaint or charge against some
one; the party on the other side is called the defendant, because
he defends himself against the charge.


1. How many judges constitute the Supreme Court of Appeals?

2. How long is the term of each judge?

3. What salaries do they receive?

4. Do they hold any other office or practice law?

5. What are their qualifications?

6. Where are the sessions of the Supreme Court held?

7. Define judiciary.

8. Define judicial station.

9. What is a session of court?

10. Define jurisdiction.

11. What is appellate jurisdiction?

12. What is the principal business of the Supreme Court of

13. What is a lower court?

14. What is a client?

15. When and how may an appeal be made from the judgment of the
Supreme Court of Appeals?

16. In what other cases besides appeals has the Supreme Court

17. Define habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, and writ.

18. What are the cases in which the Supreme Court has no

19. What are costs?

20. Define title of land, and title deed.

21. What is meant by probating a will?

22. What is a will?

23. What is a personal representative?

24. What is a guardian?

25. What is a committee?

26. Define curator and levy.

27. What is meant by the constitutionality of a law?

28. How many judicial circuits are there?

29. Where must a circuit court judge reside?

30. Is a circuit court judge permitted to practice law?

31. What are the salaries of circuit court judges?

32. What are their qualifications?

33. What are the terms of circuit courts?

34. What does a term of court mean?

35. What is the meaning of the word court?

86. Name some of the kinds of cases in which the circuit courts
have jurisdiction.

37. What do you understand by original jurisdiction and general

38. Define chancery, personal property, and real estate.

39. What is a criminal case?

40. What is a writ of error?

41. What is a supersedeas?

42. Define quo warranto.

43. What is a certiorari?

44. Define trustee and receiver.

45. What are commissioners in chancery?

46. What are testamentary cases?

47. Define testament.

48. What is an injunction?

49. What are the powers of the Circuit Court of the City of

50. What is a lawsuit?

51. What is a cause?

52. What is a motion?

53. Define cognizable, party to a suit, plantiff, defendant.



Corporation or Hustings Courts.

Held in each city of the first-class by the city judge. Judge
elected by the General Assembly in joint session for a term of
eight years. Salary, not less than 12,000 $.

Qualifications of a judge. Same as those of judges of the Supreme
Court of Appeals.

Terms. Held monthly, except that the July or August term may be

Jurisdiction. Within the territorial limits of the city, same as
circuit courts have in the counties. Concurrently with the circuit
courts they have jurisdiction over all offences committed in any
county within one mile of the corporate limits of the city.

Corporation courts, or city courts, are courts whose jurisdiction
lies within corporations or cities, and the judges are called city

There is a corporation court in each city of the first class, and
also in all cities of the second class in which it has not been by
special election or otherwise merged into the circuit court. The
Hustings Court of the city of Richmond has a peculiar and limited
jurisdiction which is explained later in this chapter.

The city judges hold office for eight years. Their salaries in
cities of the first class are fixed or specially provided by law
at not less than $2,000, but any city may increase such salary,
but such increase shall be paid entirely by the city.

Every city judge must hold a term or session every month except
July or August, in either of which the court term may be omitted--
that is, not held.

Cities of the first class are such as contain more than 10,000
inhabitants. All other cities are termed cities of the second

The Constitution requires the maintenance of city or corporation
courts in all cities of the first class, but provides for the
discontinuance of independent city courts in all cities of the
second class whenever the people vote in favor of their abolition.

Upon the abolition of the corporation court in any city of the
second class, the circuit courts of the circuit in which the city
is located will arrange to hold regular terms in such city the
same as in cities of the first class.

Within their respective limits--that is, each in its own city--
the corporation courts have the same jurisdiction as the circuit
courts. This means that they have power to try the same kind of
offences as may be tried in the circuit courts.


Held by a justice of the peace; in the cities, by the mayor or
police justice.

The judge who sits in & justice's court is called a justice of the
peace, or simply a justice, and sometimes a police justice.
Justices' courts and police courts are the courts in which
generally all offences and cases not of a serious nature are tried
and disposed of. (See under Justices of the Peace and under
Magisterial Districts. For mayor, see under Government of Cities
and Towns.)

Jurisdiction. Debt, exclusive of interest, not exceeding $100;
fines, damages, etc., not exceeding $20; have jurisdiction of
certain cases of unlawful entry and detainer, detinue, and search;
may allow bail in certain cases. Shall have concurrent
jurisdiction with the County and Corporation Courts of the State
in all cases of violations of the revenue laws of the State and of
offences arising under certain provisions of the Code, and
exclusive original jurisdiction for the trial of all other
misdemeanor cases occurring within their jurisdiction.

A person charged with refusing to pay a debt may be brought before
a justice's court if the debt, without interest, is not greater
than $100, and the justice has power to decide the case. He has
also power to try cases in which offenders may be punished by
having to pay fines or damages of not more than $20.

DAMAGES means money paid to compensate for the injury or DAMAGE
done to any person or person's property.

UNLAWFUL ENTRY is entering unlawfully upon lands belonging to
another, and UNLAWFUL DETAINER means unlawful detaining or holding
possession of lands or houses belonging to another.

DETINUE is an action in law in which a person seeks to get back
property of his which is unlawfully held or DETAINED by another.
In such cases the justice may issue a warrant for SEARCH for the
property detained.

A WARRANT is a document or paper issued by a judge giving power or
authority to a policeman, or other officer of the law, to arrest a
criminal, or an offender, in order to have him brought to trial. A
warrant issued authorizing an officer to search for property
stolen or detained, is called a SEARCH WARRANT. BAIL is security
given for the release of a person from prison. When a person is
arrested and charged with a crime he may, if the crime be not a
very serious one, be let out of prison and left at liberty until
trial, if some one will give security or pledge for him that he
will appear in court on the day appointed for the trial. If the
amount required is small, the security is usually given in the
shape of money, but if the amount is large, it is given in the
shape of a bond called a BAIL-BOND.

The person giving the bail-bond must be one who owns real estate
to the value of the amount of bail, and if the person to be tried
does not appear for trial at the time appointed, the person who
gives the bond may be required to pay the amount into court.

CONCURRENT jurisdiction is the same or equal jurisdiction. REVENUE
is the income or money which the State or corporation receives in
the shape of taxes. TAXES are the moneys collected by the State or
by towns or cities for defraying the expenses of government. The
owners of certain kinds of property have to pay taxes in
proportion to the value of their property.

VIOLATION OF THE REVENUE LAWS is a violation of any of the laws
made for the levying and collection of taxes. There is a tax upon
the selling of certain articles, such as liquors and tobacco, and
if a person sells such articles without paying the tax, it is a
violation of the revenue laws.

A CODE is a collection of the laws of the State or country. The
Code of Virginia is a book containing the statute laws of
Virginia. A MISDEMEANOR is any crime less than a felony. (For
FELONY, see page 13.)

Hustings Court of the City of Richmond.

Judge elected by the General Assembly for a term of eight years.
Salary, $3,500.

Qualifications. Same as those of a Circuit Judge. Terms. Held
monthly except the month of August.

HUSTINGS is the name given to a court formerly held in many cities
of England, and applied specially to a court held within the City
of London before the Lord Mayor and other magistrates.

Jurisdiction. Exclusive original jurisdiction of all presentments,
indictments, and informations for offences committed within the
corporate limits (except prosecutions against convicts in the
penitentiary); concurrent jurisdiction of all presentments,
indictments, and informations for offences committed within the
space of one mile beyond the corporate limits on the north side of
the James River, and to low-water mark on the south side of James
River; concurrent jurisdiction with the Circuit Court of the City
of Richmond of actions of forcible or unlawful entry and detainer;
exclusive jurisdiction of all appeals from the judgments of the
Police Justice's Court, all causes removable from said court, all
proceedings for the condemnation of land or property for public
use, all motions to correct erroneous assessments.

CORPORATE LIMITS are the limits or boundaries of the area over
which the corporation has jurisdiction. Here the phrase means the
boundaries of the city of Richmond.

PROSECUTIONS AGAINST CONVICTS are prosecutions against convicts
(prisoners) for crimes committed within the prison. All such
crimes are tried in the circuit court of the city of Richmond.

CAUSES REMOVABLE FROM SAID COURT (police justice's court) are
cases that may at the request of the parties concerned be taken
out of that court and tried in another court.

The CONDEMNATION of land or property for public use means the
deciding by a proper authority (a court or judge) that certain
lands must be given for such use. (See page 12.)

An ASSESSMENT is the valuing of property for the purpose of fixing
a tax upon it. If any owner of property in Richmond thinks the
valuation of his property too high, and that therefore the tax is
too high, he may object to the assessment as ERRONEOUS and have a
motion brought before the Hustings Court to have the assessment

Chancery Court of the City of Richmond.

Judge elected by the General Assembly for term of eight years.
Salary, $3,500.

Qualifications. Same as those of a Circuit Judge.

Terms. Shall hold four terms each year; but shall always be open
as a Court of Probate.

For explanation of CHANCERY, see page 50, and for PROBATE, see
page 48.

Jurisdiction. Shall exercise, within the corporate limits,
exclusive jurisdiction concerning the probate and recordation of
wills, the appointment, qualification, and removal of fiduciaries,
and the settlement of their accounts; the docketing of judgments;
the recordation of deeds and such other papers as are authorized
or required by law to be recorded; exclusive jurisdiction of all
suits and proceedings in chancery cognizable by law in the Circuit
Courts of the Commonwealth, except such as are specially
cognizable by the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond, and any
duty devolved, or any power or jurisdiction conferred by law on
the Circuit Courts, unless otherwise expressly provided, except as
to matters of common law and criminal jurisdiction.

The RECORDATION of wills is the recording of them in the court in
which they are probated. (For PROBATE OF WILLS, see page 48.)
FIDUCIARIES are trustees or persons appointed to hold property in
trust for others. The DOCKETING OF JUDGMENTS is making summaries
or brief statements of them for the purpose of record. A docket is
a small piece of paper containing the heads or principal points of
any writing or statement.

A JUDGMENT is a sentence or decision pronounced by a court, or a
judge of a court, on any matter tried before it. A DEED is a
written paper containing the terms of a contract, or the transfer
of real estate by the owner to a purchaser. DEVOLVED means
transferred from one person to another.

COMMON LAW is the title given to laws which have not originated in
any statute, but derive their force and authority from having been
in use for many centuries. The common law of England, upon which
the common law of Virginia is based, includes customs of the
people of such long standing that the courts took notice of them
and gave them the force of law. Common law is the UNWRITTEN law;
statute law consists of the laws enacted and recorded by

Law and Equity Court of the City of Richmond.

Judge elected by the General Assembly for a term of eight years.
Salary, $3,500.

Qualifications. Same as those of a Circuit Judge. Terms. Shall
hold four terms each year, beginning the second Monday in
February, May, September, and December, continuing as long as the
business of the Court may require.

For EQUITY, see under Circuit Courts, page 50.

Jurisdiction. Shall exercise within the corporate limits original
jurisdiction concurrent with the Chancery Court (except as to the
probate and record of wills; the appointment and qualification of
fiduciaries; the EX PARTE settlement of their accounts; the record
of deeds and other papers authorized or required by law to be
recorded). Shall have within the same limits original jurisdiction
concurrent with the Circuit Court, except all such suits, motions,
etc., as are specially cognizable by said Court;--has the same
power as to bail, injunctions, etc., as the Circuit Court, and
appeals from its decrees and judgments shall be taken and allowed
as if from a Circuit Court. This Court has no criminal

EX PARTE is a Latin phrase signifying from or on one side only. An
ex parte hearing in court would be a hearing taken by one side or
party in the absence of the other. An EX PARTE SETTLEMENT is
settlement made on the application of one party without notice to
the other.


1. Where are corporation courts held?

2. What is the term of office of a corporation's court judge, and
what salary does he receive?

3. What are the qualifications of a corporation's court judge?

4. How often are corporation courts held?

5. What is the jurisdiction of these courts?

6. How long do city judges hold office, and what salaries do they

7. What does within their respective limits mean?

8. What is the judge who sits in a justice's court called?

9. What is the jurisdiction of justices' courts?

10. Define DAMAGES.


12. What does unlawful detainer mean?

13. Define DETINUE.


15. What is a bail-bond?

16. What is concurrent jurisdiction?

17. What is revenue?

18. Define TARIFF.

19. What is the code?

20. What is a misdemeanor?

21. How long is the term of office of the judge of the Hustings
Court of the City of Richmond, and what salary does he receive?

22. What are the qualifications of the judge of the Hustings

23. How often are terms of this court held?

24. What are corporate limits?

25. What do you understand by prosecutions against convicts in the

26. What does condemnation of land mean?

27. What is an assessment?

28. What does correcting erroneous assessments mean?

29. For how long does the judge of the Chancery Court of the City
of Richmond hold office, and what salary does he receive?

30. What are the qualifications of the judge of this court?

31. How often does the court meet?

32. Mention some classes of cases in which the Chancery Court has

33. What does the recordation of wills mean?

34. What are fiduciaries?

35. What does docketing of judgments mean?

36. Define JUDGMENT.

37. What is common law?

38. For how long does a judge of the Law and Equity Court of the
City of Richmond hold office, and what is his salary?

39. What are the qualifications of a judge of this court?

40. How often and for how long does the Equity Court sit?

41. Tell of the jurisdiction of this court.

42. What does ex parte mean?

43. What is an ex parte settlement?




In all Justices' Courts, the justices are required to make and
preserve their own dockets. The Clerk of the Court of Appeals is
appointed by the court; the Clerks of the Circuit and Corporation
Courts are elected by the people of the county or corporation in
which the court is held. They hold office for a term of eight
years. Salary, fees and special allowances.

Duties. Shall record the proceedings of their respective courts
and issue writs in their name; shall be the custodians of all
papers lawfully returned to or filed in the Clerk's office; shall
perform such other duties as are imposed upon them by law.

The Tipstaff and Crier are the executive officers of the Court of

For meaning of DOCKET, see under Chancery Court of the City of
Richmond. DOCKETS here mean entries in a book giving lists of
names of persons connected with the cases tried, and particulars
of the proceedings in each case. In justices' courts such dockets
are made and kept by the justice himself.

The clerks of the courts mentioned have no salaries. They are paid
by fees and special allowances. For example, when a clerk of court
makes out a writ or bond or a copy of any court document, he gets
a fee for doing it. (See under Secretary of the Commonwealth, page
32.) A special allowance is an allowance (or a grant of money)
made by the court for special work done.

The TIPSTAFF and CRIER are executive officers of the Court of
Appeals--that is, they execute or carry out certain orders of the
court. In some places a sheriff's officer is called a tipstaff,
the name being derived from the custom of such officers bearing a
STAFF TIPPED with metal.

Criers sometimes are appointed for other courts besides the Court
of Appeals. The name is derived from the practice of proclaiming
or CRYING out in court the commands or orders of the judge.


The Sheriff is the executive officer of the Circuit Court, and of
the Circuit and Chancery Courts of the city of Richmond; the City
Sergeant is the executive officer of the Corporation Courts and
Circuit Courts held for cities, and the Hustings Court for the
city of Richmond; the Constable is the executive officer of the
Justice's Court.

Though the sheriff is an officer of the courts, he is more
particularly a county officer. His principal duties will,
therefore, be found set forth and explained under County Officers
(see page 74). The city sergeant is also a court officer, but his
duties are limited to cities. They are stated and explained under
Government of Cities and Towns. The duties of the constable, who
is a magisterial district officer, are explained under District

Commonwealth's Attorney.

Elected by the people at the general election in November for a
term of four years; must reside in the county or corporation for
which he is elected; shall hold no other elective office. Salary,
allowance by the Board of Supervisors and fees.

Duties. Gives legal advice to the county and district officers,
and prosecutes criminals in the Circuit and Corporation Courts.

For Board of Supervisors, see page 82.

LEGAL ADVICE is advice on matters of law. The commonwealth's
attorney prosecutes criminals--that is, he attends in court and
makes the charge, or states the case, and examines witnesses,
against persons charged with crime.

A WITNESS is a person who tells on oath, in answer to questions,
what he knows about the crime charged against the accused, or
about the facts in a civil case or process. (See civil process and
perjury, page 21.)


Must hold license granted by any three or more judges of the
Supreme Court of Appeals acting together under such rules and
regulations and upon such examination both as to learning and
character as may be prescribed by the said Court; must be a male
citizen over the age of twenty-one years; must have resided in the
State six months preceding application for a license; and must
qualify before the Court in which he proposes to practice.

An ATTORNEY-AT-LAW is a person legally qualified and licensed to
act as attorney. A person not a lawyer might be called an attorney
if appointed to do any business on behalf of another, but to be an
attorney-at law a person must be qualified as stated in the text.
(See under Attorney-General, page 29.) A LICENSE is a permission
to perform certain acts. It is usually in writing, and is issued
by persons having legal authority to do so.

An attorney-at-law must QUALIFY before the court in which he
wishes to practice. This means that he must produce evidence that
he is legally licensed, that he must take an oath that he will
perform his duties as an attorney, and also that he must take an
oath that he will be faithful to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Who May Practice Law in Virginia.

Any person duly authorized and practicing as Counsel or Attorney-
at-Law in any State or Territory of the United

States, or in the District of Columbia; but if he resides in
Virginia he must pay the prescribed license fee.

DULY AUTHORIZED means having received the proper license, and
having qualified. PRESCRIBED LICENSE FEE is a certain fee or
charge for the issuing of a license to practice in Virginia.


Drawn by lot from a list of those well qualified to serve as
jurors, furnished by the Judge of the Circuit or Corporation
Courts. The list shall contain not less than one hundred nor more
than three hundred names.

All male citizens over twenty-one years of age who have been
residents of the State for two years, and of the county, city, or
town in which they reside for one year next preceding their being
summoned to serve as such and competent in other respects, are
WELL QUALIFIED to SERVE as jurors within the State. But certain
persons are disqualified as not competent, such as idiots,
lunatics, and persons convicted of bribery, perjury, embezzlement
of public funds, treason, felony or petit larceny.

Certain public officers and persons belonging to certain
professions are exempt from jury service. The governor, the
lieutenant-governor, postmasters, practicing physicians (doctors),
and many others, are exempt from the duty of serving on juries.

Juries in civil and misdemeanor cases are chosen by lot. Once
every year the judge of each circuit and corporation court makes
out a list containing the names of not less than one hundred and
not more than three hundred persons resident in the county or
corporation and well qualified to serve as jurors. These names are
written on slips of paper or ballots (each name on a separate
ballot) and the ballots, after being folded so that the names may
not be seen, are put into a box kept for the purpose by the clerk
of the court.

Ten days before any term of a court at which a jury may be
required, the clerk draws sixteen ballots from the box, without
looking at the names until they are all drawn out. The persons
whose names are thus drawn are summoned to attend at the term of
court. Should more than sixteen be required, more are summoned,
and on the day they attend the court their names are written on
ballots and placed in a box, and from them the juries for the
trial of cases are drawn in the manner already stated. This is
what is called choosing or selecting BY LOT, the word lot meaning
chance. It is considered the fairest way of forming a jury.

If jurors were appointed instead of being selected by lot, persons
having prejudice or ill feeling against one of the parties in the
case might be put on the jury, and the verdict rendered by such
jury might be a very unjust one. But when the selection is by lot
nobody knows who is to be on it, and so it is equally fair to both

The number of persons on a jury is usually twelve, but in a civil
case, if both parties consent, there may be a jury of only seven;
or, the case may be tried and decided by a jury of three persons,
one selected by each of the two parties to the suit, and the third
by the other two; or, by the judge without a jury.

For juries in cases of felony the names of twenty persons residing
at a distance from the place where the crime or offence is said to
have been committed are taken from a list furnished by the circuit
or the corporation court. Those twenty are summoned to attend the
court, and from them a jury panel of sixteen is selected. The
accused person may, without giving any reason, object to, or
strike off, any four of the sixteen, and the remaining twelve will
be the jury to try the case.

If the accused does not strike off any, or strikes off less than
four, a jury of twelve is selected from the panel by lot. The
attorney for the commonwealth--that is, the attorney who
prosecutes the accused--may CHALLENGE--that is, object to--a
juror, but he must assign a reason for his objection, and if the
judge decides in favor of his objection, the person challenged is
not put on the jury. A panel is a list of persons summoned to
serve as jurors.

To SUMMON is to call or notify a person or persons to appear in
court. A person who is summoned to attend as a juror and who,
without sufficient reason, fails or neglects to do so, may be
punished by a fine of not less than five nor more than twenty

Persons summoned as jurors are entitled to receive one dollar per
day for service on a jury, and mileage at the rate of four cents
per mile travelled in going to and returning from court. (Further
explanation as to the duties of juries will be found under Petit
Jury, page 71.)

Grand Jury.

Consists of not less than nine nor more than twelve persons taken
from a list of forty-eight selected by the Judge of the Circuit or
Corporation Court from the qualified jurors of the county or city
in which his Court is held. A Special Grand Jury shall consist of
not less than six nor more than nine persons.

The principal duties of the GRAND JURY are mentioned under Circuit
Courts, page 55. The law requires that "the grand jury shall
inquire of and present all felonies, misdemeanors, and violations
of penal [criminal] laws committed within the jurisdiction of the
respective courts wherein they are sworn."

To PRESENT is to make a statement or PRESENTMENT to the court as
explained on page 55. Every grand jury has a chairman or speaker,
who is appointed by the court and is called the FOREMAN. The
foreman is required to take an oath or swear that he will "present
no person through prejudice or ill-will, nor leave any unpresented
through fear or favor," but that in all presentments he "shall
present the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

In this way the foreman is SWORN, and the other grand jurors must
swear that they will "observe and keep" the same oath taken by the
foreman. An oath is a solemn statement or declaration with an
appeal to God, or calling God to witness that what is stated is
true or that the person shall tell the truth.

Witnesses before giving evidence in courts at the trial of a case
must make oath or swear to "tell the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth." While the witness is repeating the words
of the oath he holds a Bible or Testament in his hand, and kisses
it when he has repeated the words.

There are two kinds of grand juries--regular and special. There is
a regular grand jury at two terms in each year, of the circuit,
corporation, or hustings court. But a grand jury may be ordered by
a circuit, corporation, or hustings court at any time there may be
special or urgent need for it, and such grand jury is called a
SPECIAL grand jury.

Grand jurors are entitled to the same compensation and mileage as
petit jurors (see next section).

Petit Jury.

Consists of twelve members.

Duties. Hear evidence before the court in civil and criminal cases
and render a verdict according to the law and evidence.

The PETIT JURY is the jury impanelled--that is, put on a panel or
list--to try cases in court. How such a jury is formed is stated
under Juries (see page 68). Petit jurors, like grand jurors, must
take an oath to do their duty honestly. (The word jury is derived
from the Latin word jurare, which means to swear.)

It is the duty of the petit jury to hear the evidence in the case
it is to try, and to give a verdict in accordance with that
evidence. If the evidence presented before the court proves the
accused to be guilty, the jury must give a verdict of "guilty"; if
the evidence is not sufficient to show that he is guilty, they
must give a verdict of "not guilty." (For verdict, see page 11.)

The verdict of the jury must also be ACCORDING TO LAW. This means
that the jury must give heed to the law of the case as explained
by the judge. Evidence might be offered which would not be lawful.
It is the duty of the judge to decide whether evidence is lawful
or not, and if he decides that any evidence is illegal or
unlawful, then the jury must not pay any regard to it in
considering their verdict.


1. By whom are court clerks appointed or elected, and for how long
do they hold office?

2. How are court clerks paid? 8. What are the duties of court

4. What are dockets?

5. What are the tipstaff and crier, and what are their duties?

6. How is the commonwealth's attorney chosen, and for how long?

7. Where must the commonwealth's attorney reside, and how is he

8. What are his duties?

9. What is LEGAL ADVICE?

10. What does prosecuting criminals mean?

11. What is a WITNESS?

12. What are the qualifications of an attorney-at-law?

13. Define LICENSE and QUALIFY.

14. Who may practice law in Virginia?


16. What are the qualifications of jurors?

17. What classes of persons are exempt from jury service?

18. How are juries in civil and misdemeanor cases chosen?

19. Describe the system of choosing or selecting by lot.

20. How many persons constitute a jury?

21. How are juries in cases of felony chosen?

22. What do you understand by CHALLENGING a juror?

23. What does SUMMON mean?

24. What does a grand jury consist of?

25. What is a special grand jury?

26. What are the duties of grand jurors?

27. What does PRESENT mean?

28. What is the duty of the foreman of the grand jury?

29. What is an oath?

30. How many kinds of grand juries are there?

31. What is the compensation of grand jurors?

32. What does a PETIT JURY consist of?

33. What are the duties of a petit jury?

34. What do you understand by rendering a verdict according to the
law and evidence?




Organized by the General Assembly under the provisions of the

Objects. Convenience in administering justice and transacting
local business.

Each county shall maintain at the county seat a court-house,
clerk's office, and jail.

Counties are organized--that is, formed and invested with powers
of government--by the General Assembly. The Assembly may form new
counties out of other counties or parts of other counties, but the
Constitution of Virginia directs that "no new county shall be
formed with an area of less than six hundred square miles," and
that the county or counties from which a new one is formed shall
not be reduced below an area of six hundred square miles.

The convenience of having the State divided into counties may
easily be seen. If there were no counties most of the people would
have to go long distances to the State capital in order to have
important business attended to. County organization brings the
advantages of government and the administration of justice nearer
the homes of all the people.

The COUNTY SEAT is the chief town of the county, where the public
business of the county is chiefly transacted. The court-house is
the building in which judges sit for the trial of cases. The jail
of the county is the prison in which persons convicted of minor
(trifling) offences are detained for punishment, and in which
persons charged with serious crimes are held in custody until
trial. Persons after trial and conviction for serious crimes are
sent to the penitentiary.


They are the executive officers under the authority of the laws of
the State.


Elected by the people for four years. Salary, allowance by the
Board of Supervisors and fees.

Duties. Appoints his deputies; makes arrests; serves notices;
collects fines; calls for troops in time of danger; executes any
order, warrant, or process, lawfully directed to him, within his
own county, or upon any bay, river, or creek adjoining thereto;
levies on property and sells to satisfy order of court; attends
the sittings of Circuit Courts; attends the meetings of the Board
of Supervisors, and performs such duties as may be necessary for
the proper despatch of business; must not practice law in any
court of which he is an officer; cannot hold any other elective
office; must give notice of violations of penal laws.

The salary or allowance for sheriffs is not the same in all
counties, but varies according to the number of the population. It
is paid by the Board of Supervisors. (For Board of Supervisors,
see page 82.)

The sheriff may appoint deputies or assistants to help him in his
duties, which are numerous and important. He is the principal
executive officer of the county. It is his business to execute the
judgments of the courts. If a person is sentenced to death, it is
the sheriff who must make and direct the arrangements for carrying
out the sentence.

A SENTENCE (in law) is the judgment, or declaration of punishment,
pronounced by a judge upon a criminal after being found guilty.
The sheriff must arrest and convey to prison any person or persons
who have committed crime. He must serve legal notices, such as
notices of decrees or judgments to be given against parties in
cases of action for debt. He must collect fines that are not paid
in court.

An important duty of the sheriff is to suppress riots or public
disturbances, and if he finds that he and his officers are unable
to do so, he may call upon the governor for troops (soldiers) to
assist him. In such case the governor may send State militia to
suppress the disturbance. The sheriff has charge or control of the
county jail and the prisoners confined in it, and he must protect
the prison and prisoners against violence or attack by mobs.

The sheriff must carry out any order or warrant or process of the
courts. A PROCESS is a summons or notice requiring a person to
appear in court on a certain day to answer a charge to be made
against him. If a court gives judgment against a person for debt
or fine or taxes not paid, the sheriff LEVIES on the property of
the person--that is, he takes or seizes it--and sells it to
satisfy or execute the order of court.

It is also the duty of the sheriff to give notice to the attorney
for the commonwealth of any crime (violation of penal laws) of
which he may have knowledge. The sheriff cannot hold any other
elective office--that is, an office to which a person is elected--
and he cannot act as a lawyer in any court for which he does duty
as sheriff.

Commonwealth's Attorney.

See under Officers of Courts.

County Clerk.

Also Clerk of the Circuit Court elected by the people for term of
eight years.

Duties. See under Officers of Courts.

A clerk of the county or a clerk of a court is an officer who does
writing of various kinds, such as keeping records of public
business, records of court proceedings, making out writs or bonds,
or copies of court papers or documents. Many of the duties of
clerks of counties and courts are mentioned in previous sections.


Elected by the people for four years. Salary, commissions.

Duties. Shall receive the State revenues and the county (or city)
levies, and account for and pay over the same as provided by law;
shall keep his office at the county seat; shall receive taxes from
July 1st to December 1st; after that add five per cent. and
collect; shall settle with the Auditor of Public Accounts by
December 15th, final settlement June 15th; may be required to make
monthly settlements; in cities of Richmond, Lynchburg, and
Petersburg, shall make weekly settlements; may distrain for taxes;
shall post delinquent list; must reside in the county; shall not
hold any other elective office; shall not own any warrant against
the county or city; shall not lend out any public money, or use it
for any purpose other than such as is provided by law; shall
report violations of the revenue laws. Must reside in the county
or city for which he is elected.

The STATE REVENUES are the taxes received for the State; the
COUNTY LEVIES are the taxes levied--that is, raised or collected--
for county purposes. These moneys the State treasurer must pay
over as the law provides--that is, directs. The money collected
for the county he must pay out for various public purposes
relating to the county, but before making such payments he must
have a warrant (written authority to pay) from the Board of
Supervisors. The money he receives for the State he must pay to
the auditor of public accounts.

The time for the receiving of taxes is from July 1st to December
1st each year. An addition of five per cent. is made to taxes not
paid by the latter date. The treasurer must SETTLE with the
auditor by December 15th--that is, he must by that time have paid
over to him all moneys received for the State. By June 15th he
must make a final settlement This means that he must settle for
all taxes paid to him since December 15th, and furnish lists of
those who have failed to pay. Besides county treasurers there are
city treasurers. (See also under Government of Cities and Towns)

If any person fail or refuse to pay taxes assessed upon him, the
treasurer may DISTRAIN his property to recover the amount. To
distrain is to seize property for debt due. (To ASSESS is to fix
or name a certain amount as a tax on property, or to value
property with the object of fixing a tax upon it) A person who
fails or neglects or refuses to pay his taxes is called a
DELINQUENT, a word that means one who fails to perform his duty.

A DELINQUENT LIST is a list or paper containing the names of
persons who have failed to pay the taxes, and a notice that at a
certain time certain property of such persons will be sold if the
taxes are not previously paid. A copy of the delinquent list must
be posted at public places within the city or county in which the
property to be sold is situated. A county treasurer is not himself
allowed to purchase or own any warrant or claim against the county
treasury. (A warrant here means an order for the payment of

The REVENUE LAWS are the laws relating to assessing, payment, and
collection of taxes. To conceal property so as to escape
assessment of taxes, or to carry on certain kinds of business
without paying the license or tax on such business, would be to
violate the revenue laws. The treasurer must report all violations
of the revenue laws of which he may have knowledge.

The salary of the treasurer is paid by commissions--that is,
allowances--by way of percentages on the amounts he receives. The
commission varies from two per cent, (two dollars for every
hundred dollars) on large amounts, to three and five per cent, on
small receipts.

Commissioner of the Revenue.

Elected by the people for four years; must reside in the district
for which he is elected. Salary, commissions and fees.

Duties. Shall ascertain and assess, when not otherwise assessed,
all the property, real and personal, not exempt from taxation, in
his county, district, or city, and the person to whom the same is
chargeable with taxes, all subjects of taxation, and also all male
persons of full age and sound mind residing therein; shall issue
licenses; register births and deaths; and report violations of the
revenue and penal laws.

To ASCERTAIN all the property, real and personal, and the person
to whom it is chargeable with taxes, is to find out where and what
the property is and who is the owner, so that the proper tax may
be assessed and charged against him. (For meaning of REAL and
PERSONAL property, see under Circuit Courts, page 50.)

SUBJECTS OF TAXATION means property on which taxes may be charged
or assessed. Certain kinds of property are exempt--that is, free--
from taxation in Virginia. All real estate or buildings owned by
religious bodies and used as churches for divine worship are
exempt from taxation. Public burying-grounds (cemeteries), real
estate belonging to counties, cities, or towns, real estate
belonging to the University of Virginia and other institutions
devoted to purposes of education, real estate belonging to various
benevolent institutions, such as lunatic asylums and orphan
asylums, and in general all real estate devoted to religious,
charitable, or educational uses, and not for profit to private
individuals, are exempt from taxation.

A LICENSE is a permission or authority to carry on certain kinds
of business or certain professions. Attorneys-at-law, doctors,
dentists, and persons who manufacture or sell liquors, owners of
theaters, and public shows, and people who engage in many other
sorts of business must have licenses.

The licenses are issued or given out by commissioners of the
revenue, and a certain sum must be paid for each, the money
received being part of the public income or revenue for paying the
expenses of government. Licenses are granted for a certain time.
Many are granted for a year, and some for only a number of months
or weeks or days. When the time specified in the license (which is
a written or printed paper) expires, a new license must be
obtained and another payment made.

It is the duty of the commissioner of the revenue to register
(record) the births and deaths in his district. At the time that
he ascertains the personal property in his district which is to be
taxed, he must ascertain the births and deaths that have occurred
during the past year, and enter or write the particulars in books
kept by him for the purpose. He must write the name and date of
birth of every child, and the name, address, and occupation of the
father; and he must enter the name and place of birth, and the
names of the parents, of any person who has died.

It is also the duty of the commissioner of revenue to report to
the commonwealth's attorney any violation of the revenue or penal
laws of which he may have knowledge.

The number of commissioners of revenue is not the same in all the
counties. A great many of the counties have four each, and some
have less. In counties having more than one, each commissioner has
a district for himself.

Superintendent of the Poor.

Appointed by the Circuit Judge, on the recommendation of the Board
of Supervisors, for a term of four years; must reside in the
county or city for which he is elected. Salary, not to exceed

Duties. Shall have charge of the Poor-house, receive and care for
the paupers sent to him by the Overseers of the Poor; receive and
disburse, under the direction of the Board of Supervisors, the
poor levy; make an annual report to the Board of Supervisors.

In every county there is a POOR-HOUSE, usually having a farm
annexed, and in it paupers are received and cared for at the
public expense. A. PAUPER is a poor person who has no means of
living and is supported in a public or charitable institution.
(For OVERSEER OF THE POOR, see under District Organization.)

The POOR LEVY is the tax annually levied for the support of the
poor-house. This levy is made by the Board of Supervisors (which
see), and the amount collected is received and DISBURSED--that is,
expended--by the superintendent of the poor for the purpose for
which it is intended.

The superintendent must make a report annually to the Board of
Supervisors. This means that he must make a statement for the
board once every year, showing the number of paupers provided for
during the year, giving the name of each and how long supported,
and also showing the total amount of money expended, the work done
on the farm, the crops raised, and other information and
particulars relating to the management of the institution.

The salary of superintendents of the poor is not the same in all
counties. It varies according to the population.

County Surveyor.

Appointed by the Circuit Court, on the recommendation of the Board
of Supervisors, for four years; must reside in the county for
which he is appointed. Salary, fees and mileage.

Duties. Shall promptly make surveys of land ordered by courts, and
return true plat and certificate thereof; establish meridian line;
locate land warrants.

A SURVEYOR is one who measures portions of land to ascertain their
area, or who ascertains or fixes the boundaries, form, extent and
position of any district or territory.

The COUNTY SURVEYOR must survey lands when ordered by the court,
and make out and certify a TRUE PLAT of such lands. A PLAT is a
plan or map or chart.

A MERIDIAN LINE, as meant in the text, is a line located at some
central and easily reached place in the county, running due north
and south for not less than three hundred yards, and marked at
each end of the three hundred yards upon a solid stone fixed in
the earth. This line is necessary for various purposes of
surveying and map making. There must be a meridian line marked in
every county, and when a new county is formed it is the duty of
the surveyor to establish a meridian line.

TO LOCATE LAND WARRANTS is to lay off (mark out) and survey
portions of waste land belonging to the State for persons who have
purchased any of such land. The warrants or orders for the land
are issued by the register of the land office on receipt of the
purchase money (see page 37).

Superintendent of Public Schools. See Education.

County Board of School Commissioners.

See Education.

Electoral Board. Appointed by the Circuit or Corporation Court for
term of three years; composed of three qualified voters, residents
of the county or city. Salary, $2 for each day of actual service,
not to exceed $10 a year.

Duties. Appoint for each election district of the county or city a
registrar, who shall be a discreet citizen and resident of the
election district, and who shall serve for two years; shall
provide for new registration when necessary; shall appoint each
year three competent citizens who are qualified voters, and who
can read and write, to be judges of election for all elections in
their respective election districts; shall designate five of the
judges of election to act as commissioners, who shall meet at the
Clerk's Office, open the election returns and ascertain from them
the persons elected.

There is an Electoral Board for each county and city. As the
duties of the board may be performed in a few days each year, the
total salary for each member is limited to $10 a year.

AN ELECTION DISTRICT is constituted (made up) of a magisterial
district in a county, and a WARD in a city. For the former, see

A REGISTRAR is an officer who registers or enters in books kept
for the purpose the names of all persons in his district who are
entitled to vote. He must be at his voting place on the second
Tuesday in each year to register all qualified voters who shall
apply to be registered, and ten days previous to the November
elections he must sit one day to amend, and correct the list where
necessary, and to register qualified voters not previously

JUDGES OF ELECTION have already been mentioned and some of their
duties explained. (See page 14, also under Secretary of the
Commonwealth, page 32, and under Board of State Canvassers, page
43, for manner of receiving and dealing with election returns)

Board of Supervisors.

Composed of the Supervisors of the several magisterial districts
of the county. Salary, $3 per day and mileage. The County Clerk is
the clerk of the Board.

Duties. Shall audit the accounts of the county, and issue warrants
in payment of claims; shall settle with the county officers, and
take the necessary steps to secure a satisfactory exhibit and
settlement of the affairs of the county; examine the books of the
Commissioner of the Revenue; fix and order county levies and
capitation tax; raise money for county expenses; represent the
county; have the care of the county property and the management of
the business and concerns of the county in all cases not otherwise
provided for.


THE ACCOUNTS OF THE COUNTY are the statements of public moneys
received and expended by county officers. All such statements must
be audited by the Board of Supervisors. An EXHIBIT is a paper
showing or proving the correctness of money accounts, such as a
voucher or a receipt. A CAPITATION tax is a tax on persons (from
Latin caput, the head). A capitation tax is levied on all male
persons over the age of twenty-one. The Board of Supervisors
represents the county in all public matters, as in any action at
law taken for or against the county, and it has the care and
control generally of the public property, and the direction of the
public business affairs of the county.


Appointed for a term of four years; number same as the number of
Commissioners of the Revenue; must be a resident of the district
for which he is appointed. Salary, $2 for each day he is
necessarily employed.

Duties. Examine, immediately after appointment, all the lands and
lots, with the improvements thereon, within their respective
counties, districts, and corporations, and ascertain and assess
the cash value thereof.

The land within the districts is valued by the assessors with the
object of fixing upon each property the tax to be levied. When the
assessor of a district has completed his valuations and made a
record of them, he must send a copy of the record to the auditor
of public accounts, another to the commissioner of revenue for the
district, and another must be filed and preserved in the office of
the county clerk.


Appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the Circuit
Court. A Justice of the Peace may act as Coroner. Salary, fees.

Duties. To hold inquest over the dead bodies of those supposed to
have been killed by violence; may act as sheriff in certain cases.

Every county must have at least one CORONER, but a county may have
more than one, if the circuit court thinks it necessary. In such
case the court recommends the appointment of a second coroner and
nominates two persons for the office. The governor appoints one of

The business of the CORONER is to hold an INQUEST or inquiry into
every case of death supposed to have been caused by violence. The
coroner's inquest is conducted much after the manner of a jury
trial. There is a jury of six persons, summoned by the sheriff or
sergeant or constable, and sworn "to diligently inquire, and true
presentment make, when, how, and by what means the person came by
his death."

After witnesses have been examined and the whole case has been
thoroughly investigated, the jury gives its verdict. If the jury
should find that murder or assault was committed on the deceased,
and should charge any person with the crime, the coroner issues
his warrant for the arrest of the person, and if found he is
arrested and held in prison until he is tried by a judge and jury.


1. By whom are counties organized?

2. What is the advantage of a division of a State into counties?

3. What institutions must each county maintain?

4. What is the COUNTY SEAT?

5. What are county officers?

6. For how long is the sheriff elected, and how is he paid?

7. Mention some of the duties of the sheriff.

8. What is a SENTENCE?

9. Define PROCESS and LEVIES.

10. What are the duties of the county clerk?

11. What is the term of the treasurer, and how is he paid?

12. Name some of the duties of the treasurer.

13. What are the STATE REVENUES?

14. How does the treasurer dispose of the moneys he receives?

15. What do you understand by a DELINQUENT LIST?

16. What are the revenue laws?

17. For how long is the commissioner of the revenue elected?

18. How is he paid?

19. What do you understand by ASCERTAINING all the property, real
and personal?

20. What does SUBJECTS OF TAXATION mean?

21. What is a license?

22. What are the duties of the commissioner of the revenue
regarding births and deaths?

23 By whom is the superintendent of the poor appointed?

24. What is his term of office?

25. What are the duties of the superintendent of the poor?

26 Where are the poor received and cared for?


28. What does the annual report of the superintendent of the poor

29. How is the county surveyor appointed, and how paid?

30. Mention some of the duties of the county surveyor.

31. Define SURVEYOR.

32. What is a plat?

33. What is a meridian line?

34. What do you understand by LOCATING LAND WARRANTS?

35. By whom is the Electoral Board chosen, and for how long?

36. What is the board composed of, and what remuneration do its
members receive?

37. What are the duties of the Electoral Board?

38. What is an electoral district?

39. What is a registrar, arid what are his duties?

40. Of whom is the Board of Supervisors composed?

41. What salary do the members of this board receive?

42. Who is clerk of the board?

43. What are the duties of the Board of Supervisors?

44. What are the accounts of the county?

45. What is an exhibit?

46. What is a capitation tax?

47. Who appoints the assessors?

48. How many assessors are there, and what salary do they receive?

49. What are the duties of the assessors?

50. By whom is the coroner appointed, and how is he paid?

51. What are the duties of the coroner?

52 What do you understand by an inquest?

53. Tell how an inquest is conducted.



Magisterial Districts.

Each county shall be divided into as many compactly located
magisterial districts as are necessary, not less than three.

There must be at least three and not more than eleven magisterial
districts in each county, and in each district there must be one
supervisor, three justices of peace, one constable, and one
overseer of the poor.


Elected by the people for four years; must be a resident of the

Duties. A member of the Board of Supervisors; shall inspect the
roads and bridges in his district.

The general duties of the Board of Supervisors have been already
explained, but each supervisor has special duties in his own
district. He must inspect the public roads and bridges in his
district twice every year to see that they are kept in repair, and
he must once a year make a written report to the Board of
Supervisors as to their condition.

For the time he is actually employed in such service each
supervisor receives two dollars a day, paid out of the public
funds of his own district, but he is not allowed for such service
more than thirty dollars in any one year.

Justices of the Peace.

Three in each district; elected by the people for four years; must
reside in the district. Salary, fees.

Duties. Is a conservator of the peace; must see that the laws are
obeyed; may issue warrants, attachments, etc.; may hold court for
the trial of causes. (See Justices' Courts.)

The jurisdiction of justices is fully explained under JUSTICES'
COURTS. Justices of the peace receive no salaries, but they are
allowed fees for the issuing and certifying of several kinds of
legal documents.

A CONSERVATOR of the peace is a preserver of the peace. To
preserve the peace is one of the chief duties of a justice of the
peace, hence the title of his office. If he have good reason to
believe that any person intends to commit an offence against
another, it is the duty of a justice to issue a warrant for the
arrest of such person, and to require him to give bail or security
for his good behavior.

In general it is the duty of the justice of the peace to do
everything necessary to prevent, as well as to punish, violations
of the criminal law in his district.

An ATTACHMENT is a writ directing an officer of the law to arrest
and bring into court a person who has been summoned to attend as a
witness or a juror, but has failed to appear at the proper time.


Elected by the people for four years; must reside in the district.
Salary, fees.

Duties. To make arrests; to serve notices; to execute any order,
warrant, or process, legally directed to him; attend Justices'
Courts; execute its judgments, levy attachments, collect fines,
report violations of the penal laws; may act as sheriff in certain

The constable performs in his district the same sort of duties
generally that the sheriff performs for the county.

Overseer of the Poor.

Elected by the people for four years; must reside in the district.
Salary, $2 for each day actually engaged, but not to exceed $20
per year.

Duties. Shall care for and assist persons unable to maintain
themselves, who have a legal settlement in his district; shall
remove those not having a legal settlement; shall prevent persons
from going about begging; may hold and administer certain property
donated to charitable purposes; may place in an asylum, or bind
out as an apprentice, any minor found begging, or likely to become
chargeable to the county.

A LEGAL SETTLEMENT in the case of a pauper is residence for one
year in the district and three years in the State. Paupers not
having a legal settlement may be removed to the place where they
were last legally settled, but a warrant of removal must be
obtained from a justice of the county or district.

A MINOR is a boy or girl under twenty-one years of age.

Conservators of the Peace.

Every judge throughout the State; every justice, commissioner in
chancery, and notary within his county or corporation; conductors
of railroad trains on their trains; depot agents at their places
of business; masters of all steamers navigating the waters of the
State on their respective vessels.

A NOTARY, or notary public, is an officer who attests or certifies
deeds and other papers, under his official seal. Statements in
writing that require to be attested for business or legal purposes
are usually taken to a notary to be signed by him after the party
has made oath that the statements are true.

Conductors of railroad trains may arrest any persons who violate
the peace on their trains, and keep such persons in custody until
they can be given over to the proper authorities for trial.
Railroad depot agents may do the same at their depots, and the
masters or captains of steamers may do the same on their vessels
while sailing in the waters within the State. This is what is
meant by being CONSERVATORS of the peace. Judges have the same
power throughout the State, and justices, commissioners in
chancery, and notaries within their districts.


Each magisterial district is also a school district, for which see
under Education, page 99.


One school trustee is appointed annually for each school district;
see page 99.


This board is composed of three trustees of the district; for its
duties, see page 99.


1. How many magisterial districts is a county divided into?

2. For how long is the supervisor elected?

3 What are the duties of a supervisor?

4. How many justices of the peace are elected for a district?

5 What are the duties of a justice of the peace?

6. What is a conservator of the peace?

7. What is an attachment?

8. For how long is a constable elected?

9. What are the duties of the constable?

10. For how long is the overseer of the poor elected?

11. What remuneration does he receive?

12. Name some of his duties.

13. What is a legal settlement?

14. What is a minor?

15. Who are conservators of the peace?

16. What is a notary?

17. What provisions with regard to schools are mentioned as being
made in the magisterial districts?



A City is an incorporated community containing within well-defined
boundaries five thousand or more inhabitants.

A Town is an incorporated community of less than five thousand

A Council includes any body or bodies authorized to make
ordinances for the government of a city or town.

An incorporated town or city is a community chartered as a
corporation, for explanation of which, see page 14.

Ordinances are laws made by the council of a city or town for
managing the public affairs of the city, or town.


In towns it is composed of the Mayor and six Councilmen, elected
every two years by the people of the town on the second Tuesday in
June. The Mayor and each Councilman have the power and authority
of a justice in civil matters within the corporate limits, and in
criminal matters within these limits and one mile beyond them; may
issue processes, and may hear and determine prosecutions, etc. In
cities the Councilmen of each ward are elected by the people of
such ward. The Council of cities of over ten thousand inhabitants
is made up of two branches:--the Board of Aldermen and the Common
Council, all of whom are elected for four years, one-half being
chosen every two years. These provisions may be modified by the
city charter. Members of Common Council shall hold no other office
in cities; no city officer shall hold a seat in the General

It is the aim of the Constitution that, so far as possible, all
cities shall be organized under general laws.

A city charter is the law under which the city is governed. It is
passed by the General Assembly, and it makes the city a
corporation. It states what powers the corporation may exercise
and what officers it may appoint or elect to carry on its

A charter is for a city what a constitution is for a State. It
prescribes the system under which the city is to be governed.

The powers of the mayor and the councilmen as justices are
modified--that is, regulated--by the city charter, so that they
may not be exactly the same in all cities.

Cities are divided into districts called wards, and each ward
elects a certain number of councilmen.

POWERS. To levy taxes; create corporate debt; impose tax on
licenses; enact ordinances, and prescribe fines or other
punishment for the violation thereof; appoint a collector of
taxes, and other officers; disburse all money collected or
received for the corporation; lay off and keep in order streets
and public grounds; provide necessary buildings, a fire
department, water works, cemeteries, etc.; abate nuisances;
establish election districts; alter and rearrange wards; provide
for weighing articles of merchandise; judge of the election,
qualification, and returns of its own members; protect the
property of the city, and preserve peace and good order therein.

To create corporate debt is to borrow money for carrying out
purposes of city government. Charters of cities give power to
borrow money for such purposes.

A nuisance is anything that is annoying or offensive, or dangerous
to the health of citizens.

The council may provide in various parts of the city public
weighing machines for weighing articles of merchandise purchased
by citizens who may wish to ascertain whether they have got honest

To protect the property of the city and to preserve peace and
order is the most important business of the council. For this
purpose it has power to organize and maintain a police force.

Mayor of City.

Elected by the people of the city for a term of four years;
presides over the Council; and his powers and duties may be
modified by the city charter.

Duties. The chief executive officer of the city; shall see that
the duties of the various city officers are faithfully performed;
may suspend for cause all town or city officers.

To suspend an officer is to remove him from his office for a time
until any charge made against him of neglect of duty is
investigated and decided on.

City Sergeant.

Elected by the people for four years.

Duties. Shall perform the duties, etc., prescribed by the city
charter; and shall also within the jurisdiction of the courts of
his city exercise the same powers, perform the same duties, and be
subject to the same liabilities as the sheriff of a county; in
towns he shall have the same powers and discharge the same duties
as constables, within the corporate limits and for one mile beyond
them; shall be the executive officer of the Corporation Court.

LIABILITY means responsibility. Sheriffs are responsible or
answerable for the performance of their duties, and if they fail
to perform them they may be fined or imprisoned. City sergeants
are under the same liabilities.


Elected by the people for eight years. See under Officers of


Elected by the people for four years. See County Organization.


Elected by the people for four years. See County Organization.


Elected by the people for four years. See County Organization.


Elected by the people for four years.

Duties. Shall attend the Circuit and Chancery Courts, and act as
their executive officer; shall exercise the same powers, perform
the same duties, have the same fees and compensation therefor, and
be subject to the same penalties touching all processes issued by
said courts, or by the clerks thereof, or otherwise lawfully
directed to him, that the sheriff of a county exercises, performs,
and is entitled or subject to in his county.


Superintendents of Schools for cities are appointed by the State
Board of Education. See under Education, page


1. Define city, town, council.

3. What are ordinances?

8. Of whom is the council composed?

4. What is the term of office of a member of council?

5. What are the powers of the council?

6. How are the Councilmen in cities elected?

7. In cities of over ten thousand inhabitants how is the Council
made up?

8. Of whom is the Common Council composed?

9. Are members of this body permitted to hold any other office?

10. What is a city charter?

11. What do you understand by the powers of the mayor and the
councilmen as justices being modified?

12. What are wards?

13. Name some of the powers of the council.

14. What does creating corporate debt mean?

15. What is a nuisance?

16. What is the most important business of the council?

17. How is the mayor of a city chosen, and what is his term of

18. What are the mayor's duties?

19. What does suspending an officer mean?

20. How is the city sergeant chosen, and what is his term of

21. Name some of his duties.

22. What does liability mean?

23. What is the term of office of the commissioner of the revenue,
the commonwealth's attorney, and the treasurer?

24. How long does the sheriff of Richmond City hold office?

25. Name some of his duties.

26. Who appoints superintendents of schools for cities?




Composed of the Governor, Superintendent of Public Instruction,
Attorney-General, three experienced educators elected from the
faculties of certain State institutions, one City Superintendent
of Schools, and one County Superintendent of Schools. These eight
constitute the State Board of Education, and their several powers
and duties as members of the Board are identical except that the
two division superintendents shall not participate in the
appointment of any public school official.

This Board shall have the management and investment of school

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