Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Chapter 16. Local Constitutional Officers, Courthouses and Supplies
5/28/2022

Article 1. Local Constitutional Officers, Courthouses and Supplies.

§ 15.2-1600. Counties and cities required to elect certain officers; qualifications of attorney for the Commonwealth; duties and compensation of officers; vacancies, certain counties and cities excepted; officer's powers not to be diminished.

A. The voters of each county and city shall elect a treasurer, a sheriff, an attorney for the Commonwealth, a clerk, who shall be clerk of the court in the office of which deeds are recorded, and a commissioner of revenue. To qualify to be elected or hold office, an attorney for the Commonwealth shall be a member of the bar of this Commonwealth. The duties and compensation of such officers shall be prescribed by general law or special act and any vacancy in such office shall be filled, notwithstanding any charter provision to the contrary, by a majority of the circuit judges of the judicial circuit for the county or city pursuant to the provisions of §§ 24.2-226 and 24.2-227. Any county or city not required to have or to elect such officers prior to July 1, 1971, shall not be so required by this section, nor shall the provisions of this section apply to those counties and cities which have heretofore adopted, or may hereafter adopt, a form of government, as provided by law, which does not require such counties or cities to have or elect one or more of such officers.

B. Nothing in this title shall be construed to authorize the governing body or the chief administrative officer of a locality to designate an elected constitutional officer to exercise a power or perform a duty which the officer is not required to perform under applicable state law without the consent of such officer, nor by designation to diminish any such officer's powers or duties as provided by applicable state law including the power to organize their offices and to appoint such deputies, assistants and other individuals as are authorized by law upon the terms and conditions specified by such officers.

1971, Ex. Sess., c. 223, § 15.1-40.1; 1979, c. 522; 1982, c. 637; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1601. Requirements for officers.

The officers required by § 15.2-1600 are subject to the residency, qualification for office, bonding, dual-office-holding requirements and prohibitions provided for in Chapter 15 of this title.

1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1602. Sharing of such officers by two or more units of government.

Two or more units of government may share the officer or officers, or any combination of them, required by § 15.2-1600 if (i) a petition, signed by a number of qualified voters equal to fifteen percent of the number of votes cast in such units of government by voters thereof and counted for candidates in the last gubernatorial election in such units of government, and in no event signed by less than 100 voters of such units of government, is filed with a circuit court having jurisdiction in one or more of such units of government, asking that a referendum be held on the question "May the (names of the units of government) share the (officer or officers), as the case may be, (naming such officers if less than all) required by Article VII, Section 4 of the Constitution of Virginia ?"; (ii) following the filing of such petition, the court shall by order entered of record, issued in accordance with Article 5 (§ 24.2-681 et seq.) of Chapter 6 of Title 24.2, require the regular election officials of the units of government to open the polls and take the sense of the voters on such question and (iii) at the election held on the day designated by order of such court, a majority of the voters voting in such election in each such unit of government shall have voted "Yes." The clerk of the circuit court which entered the order shall publish notice of the election in a newspaper of general circulation in such units of government once a week for three consecutive weeks prior to the election.

The regular election officials of the units of government shall open the polls at the various voting places in such units of government on the date specified in the order and conduct the election in the manner provided by law. The election shall be by ballot which shall be prepared by the electoral boards of the units of government and on which shall be printed the following:

"May _______________ share the officer or officers, as the case may be, (naming such officers if less than all) required by Article VII, Section 4 of the Constitution of Virginia?

[ ] Yes

[ ] No"

In the blank shall be inserted the names of the units of government in which such election is held. The question required by this section may be modified to accommodate the naming of the officer or officers. Any voter desiring to vote "Yes" shall mark a check (✓) mark or a cross (✗ or +) mark or a line (-) in the square provided for such purpose immediately preceding the word "Yes," leaving the square immediately preceding the word "No," unchanged. Any voter desiring to vote "No" shall mark a check (✓) mark or cross (✗ or +) mark or a line (-) in the square provided for such purpose immediately preceding the word "No," leaving the square immediately preceding the word "Yes," unmarked.

The ballots shall be counted, returns made and canvassed as in other elections, and the results certified by the electoral boards to the court ordering such election. Thereupon, the court shall enter an order proclaiming the results of the election, and a duly certified copy of the order shall be transmitted to the State Board of Elections and to the governing bodies of the units of government affected.

Thereafter, the officer or officers shall be elected by the voters of the units of government desiring to share such officer or officers; however, the provisions of this section shall not reduce the term of any person holding an office at the time the election provided for in this section is held.

1971, Ex. Sess., c. 223, § 15.1-40.2; 1975, c. 517; 1976, c. 301; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1603. Appointment of deputies; their powers; how removed.

The treasurer, the sheriff, the commissioner of the revenue, and the clerk of any circuit court may at the time he qualifies as provided in § 15.2-1522 or thereafter appoint one or more deputies, who may discharge any of the official duties of their principal during his continuance in office, unless it is some duty the performance of which by a deputy is expressly forbidden by law. The sheriff making an appointment of a deputy under the provisions of this section may review the record of the deputy as furnished by the Federal Bureau of Investigation prior to certification to the appropriate court as provided hereunder.

The sheriff may appoint as deputies medical and rehabilitation employees as are authorized by the State Compensation Board. Deputies appointed pursuant to this paragraph shall not be considered by the State Compensation Board in fixing the number of full-time or part-time deputies which may be appointed by the sheriff pursuant to § 15.2-1609.1.

The officer making any such appointment shall certify the appointment to the court in the clerk's office of which the oath of the principal of such deputy is filed, and a record thereof shall be entered in the order book of such court. Any such deputy at the time his principal qualifies as provided in § 15.2-1522 or thereafter, and before entering upon the duties of his office, shall take and prescribe the oath now provided for in § 49-1. The oath shall be filed with the clerk of the court in whose office the oath of his principal is filed, and such clerk shall properly label and file all such oaths in his office for preservation. Any such deputy may be removed from office by his principal. The deputy may also be removed by the court as provided by § 24.2-230.

Code 1950, § 15-485; 1952, c. 112; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-48; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 155; 1972, c. 549; 1976, c. 199; 1979, c. 660; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1604. Appointment of deputies and employment of employees; discriminatory practices by certain officers; civil penalty.

A. It shall be an unlawful employment practice for a constitutional officer:

1. To fail or refuse to appoint or hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of appointment or employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, age, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or military status; or

2. To limit, segregate, or classify his appointees, employees, or applicants for appointment or employment in any way that would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of the individual's race, color, religion, sex, age, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or military status.

B. Nothing in this section shall be construed to make it an unlawful employment practice for a constitutional officer to hire or appoint an individual on the basis of his sex or age in those instances where sex or age is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular office. The provisions of this section shall not apply to policy-making positions, confidential or personal staff positions, or undercover positions.

C. With regard to notices and advertisements:

1. Every constitutional officer shall, prior to hiring any employee, advertise such employment position in a newspaper having general circulation or a state or local government job placement service in such constitutional officer's locality except where the vacancy is to be used (i) as a placement opportunity for appointees or employees affected by layoff, (ii) as a transfer opportunity or demotion for an incumbent, (iii) to fill positions that have been advertised within the past 120 days, (iv) to fill positions to be filled by appointees or employees returning from leave with or without pay, (v) to fill temporary positions, temporary employees being those employees hired to work on special projects that have durations of three months or less, or (vi) to fill policy-making positions, confidential or personal staff positions, or special, sensitive law-enforcement positions normally regarded as undercover work.

2. No constitutional officer shall print or publish or cause to be printed or published any notice or advertisement relating to employment by such constitutional officer indicating any preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination, based on sex or national origin, except that such notice or advertisement may indicate a preference, limitation, specification, or discrimination based on sex or age when sex or age is a bona fide occupational qualification for employment.

D. Complaints regarding violations of subsection A may be made to the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Law. The Office shall have the authority to exercise its powers as provided in Article 4 (§ 2.2-520 et seq.) of Chapter 5 of Title 2.2.

E. Any constitutional officer who willfully violates the provisions of subsection C shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $2,000.

F. As used in this section, "military status" means status as (i) a member of the uniformed forces, as defined in 10 U.S.C. § 101(a)(5), of the United States or a reserve component thereof named under 10 U.S.C. § 10101, (ii) a veteran as defined in 38 U.S.C. § 101(2), or (iii) a dependent as defined in 50 U.S.C. § 3911(4) except that the support provided by the service member to the individual shall have been provided 180 days immediately preceding an alleged action that if proven true would constitute unlawful discrimination under this section instead of 180 days immediately preceding an application for relief under 50 U.S.C. Chapter 50.

1989, c. 718, § 15.1-48.1; 1997, c. 587; 2004, c. 453; 2012, cc. 803, 835; 2020, cc. 1137, 1140; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 196, 477, 478.

§ 15.2-1605. Vacations; sick leave and compensatory time for certain officers and employees.

A. "Employee," as used in this section, means an employee or deputy of the attorney for the Commonwealth, the treasurer, the commissioner of the revenue, the clerk of the circuit court, and the sheriff and shall also include the officers and employees of all courts whose salaries are paid by the Commonwealth.

B. Every county and city for which such employees work shall annually provide for each employee at least two weeks vacation with pay, at least seven days sick leave with pay, and such legal holidays as are provided for in § 2.2-3300. If any employee or deputy is required to work on any legal holiday, he shall receive, in lieu of the holiday, an equal amount of compensatory time with pay in the same calendar year in which such holiday occurs. The county or city may provide that vacation or sick leave may be accumulated or shall terminate within a given period of time; however, such vacation may not be accumulated in excess of six weeks. The cost of providing such benefits shall be borne in the same manner and on the same basis as the costs of the office are shared or as the excess fees therefrom may be shared. When a county or city has entered into an agreement with a constitutional officer to include his employees under the locality's personnel leave policies, then such employee may accrue and accumulate leave pursuant to such policies instead of under this section, as long as such local benefits are not less than the amounts as set out in this section.

C. For the purpose of computing the Commonwealth's financial obligations for accumulated vacation time of an employee under this section, the Commonwealth shall pay the lesser, and in any event only its proportional share, of the amount due to an employee for such time when computed (i) under the applicable counties' or cities' personnel policies, regulations and rules, or (ii) by treating the employee as a Commonwealth employee, under its applicable personnel policies, regulations and rules.

1972, c. 562, § 15.1-19.3; 1974, c. 103; 1977, c. 116; 1980, c. 547; 1984, c. 365; 1997, c. 587; 2017, c. 632.

§ 15.2-1605.1. Supplementing compensation of certain county and city officers and their employees.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the governing body of any county or city, in its discretion, may supplement the compensation of the sheriff, treasurer, commissioner of the revenue, director of finance, clerk of the circuit court, or attorney for the Commonwealth, or any of their deputies or employees, above the salary of any such officer, deputy or employee, in such amounts as it may deem expedient. Such additional compensation shall be wholly payable from the funds of any such county or city.

1970, c. 153, § 14.1-11.4; 1973, c. 437; 1974, c. 423; 1998, c. 872; 1999, c. 283; 2002, c. 832.

§ 15.2-1605.2. Salary increases for constitutional officers.

In every locality of this Commonwealth, whenever the Compensation Board shall provide salary increases, including but not limited to cost-of-living increases, whether specifically for constitutional officers and their assistants or deputies or for the general compensation to be paid in the aggregate to a constitutional officer, pursuant to any statutory or other authority, no locality shall use such reimbursement for any purpose other than salary during the fiscal year. A locality shall distribute such salary in appropriate proportions to its constitutional officers and their assistants or deputies.

As used in this section, "constitutional officer" means the treasurer, sheriff, attorney for the Commonwealth, clerk of circuit court, or commissioner of revenue of any locality.

1998, c. 647.

§ 15.2-1606. Defense of constitutional officers; appointment of counsel.

In the event that any treasurer, sheriff, attorney for the Commonwealth, clerk of the circuit court or commissioner of the revenue, or any deputy or assistant of any of such officers, is made defendant in any civil action arising out of the performance of his official duties and does not have legal defense provided under the insurance coverage of his office, such officer, or deputy or assistant thereto, may make application to the circuit court for the county or city in which he serves to assign counsel for his defense in such action. The court may, upon good cause shown, make such orders respecting the employment of an attorney or attorneys, including the attorney for the Commonwealth, as may be appropriate, and fix his compensation. Reimbursement of any expenses incurred in the defense of such charge may also be allowed by the court. Such legal fees and expenses shall be paid from the treasury of the county or city, and reimbursement shall be made from the Compensation Board in the proportions set out in § 15.2-1636.14.

1977, c. 554, § 15.1-66.4; 1985, c. 321; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-1607. Providing legal fees and expenses for sheriffs and deputies.

If any sheriff or deputy sheriff is arrested or indicted or otherwise prosecuted on any charge arising out of any act committed in the discharge of his official duties, and such charge is subsequently dismissed or there is rendered a verdict of not guilty, such sheriff or deputy sheriff may submit to the governing body of the locality in which he was elected or appointed a statement of legal fees and expenses incurred in his defense of such charge. The governing body may authorize that such legal fees and expenses, or any portion thereof, be paid from the treasury of such locality. If the affected sheriff or deputy sheriff disagrees with the action of the governing body, the officer may petition the circuit court for the county or city to award the fees and cost. The circuit court, sitting without a jury, shall hold a hearing on the matter. The court for good cause shown may order the governing body to pay all or any appropriate portion of the fees and cost.

1975, c. 30, § 15.1-66.3; 1983, c. 232; 1997, c. 587.