VIRGINIA. The name of one of the original states of the United States
of America. This colony was chartered in 1606, by James the First, and this
charter was afterwards altered in 1609 and 1612; and in 1624 the charter was
declared to be forfeited under proceedings under a writ of quo warranto. After
the fall of the charter, Virginia continued to be a royal province until the
period of the American Revolution.
2. A constitution, or rather bill of rights, was adopted by a convention of
the representatives of the good people of Virginia, on the 12th day of June,
1776. An amended constitution or form of government for Virginia was adopted
January 14, 1830, which has been superseded by the present constitution, which
was adopted August 1, 1851.
3. The legislative, executive, and judiciary departments , shall be separate
and distinct, so that neither exercise the powers properly belonging to either
of the others; nor shall any person exercise the powers of more than one of them
at the same time, except that justices of the peace shall be eligible to either
house of assembly. Art 2.
4. - §1. The legislature is composed of two branches, the house of delegates
and the senate, which together are called the general assembly of Virginia.
5. - 1. The house of delegates will be considered with reference, 1. To the
qualifications of the electors. 2. The qualifications of members. 3. The number
of members. 4. Time of their election.
6. - 1st. Every white male citizen of the commonwealth, of the age of
twenty-one years, who has been a resident of the state for two years, and of the
county, city, or town where he offers to vote for twelve months next preceding
an election, and no other person, shall be qualified to vote for members of the
general assembly, and all officers elective by the people: but no person in the
military, naval, or marine service of the United States shall be deemed a
resident of this state, by reason of being staationed therein. And no person
shall have the right to vote, who is of unsound mind, or a pauper, or a
non-commissioned officer, soldier, seaman, or marine in the service of the
United States, or who has been convicted of bribery in an election, or of any
7. - 2. The general assembly at its first session after the; adoption of this
constitution, and afterwards as occasion may require, shall cause every city or
town, the white population of which exceeds five thousand, to be laid off into
convenient wards, and a separate place of voting to be established in each, and
thereafter no inhabitant of such city or town shall be allowed to vote except in
the ward in which be resides.
8. - 3. No voter, during the time for holding any election at which he is
entitled to vote, shall be compelled to perform military service, except in time
of war or public danger; to work upon the public roads, or to attend any court
as suitor, juror or witness; and no voter shall be subject to arrest under any
civil process during his attendance at elections, or in going to and returning
9. - 4. ln all elections votes shall be given openly, or viva voce, and not
by ballot. But dumb persons, entitled to suffrage, may vote by ballot. Art. 3.
10. - 2d. Any person may be elected a delegate who shall have attained the
age of twenty-one years, and shall be actually a resident within the city,
county, town, or election district, qualified by this constitution to vote for
members of the general assembly: but no person holding a lucrative office, no
minister of the gospel, or priest of any religious denomination, no salaried
officer of any banking corporation or company, and no attorney for the
commonwealth shall be capable of being elected a member of either house of
assembly. The removal of any person elected to neither branch of the general
assembly, from the county, city, town, or district for which he was elected,
shall vacate his office. Art. 4, s. 5, §7.
11.-3d. The house of delegates is to consist of one hundred and fity-two
members. Art. 4, §2.
12. - 4th. The members of the general assembly are to be chosen biennially.
Art. 4, §2.
13.- 2. The senate will be considered in the same order that the house of
delegates has been. 1. The qualifications of electors are the same as for
electors of delegates. 2. Any person may be elected a senator who has attained
the age of twenty-five years, and shall be actually a resident within the
district, and qualified to vote for members of the general assembly. The other
qualifications are the, same as those for delegates. Art. 4, s. 5, §7. 3. The
number of senators is fifty. Art. 4, §3.
4. Senators are to be elected for the term of four years. Upon the assembling
of the senators so elected, they shall be divided into two equal classes to be
numbered by lot. The term of service of the senators of the first class shall
expire with that of the delegates first elected under this constitution; and of
the senators of the second class, at the expiration of two years thereafter; and
this alternation shall, be continued, so that one-half of the senators may be
chosen every second year. Art. 4, §3.
14. - 1. The chief executive ower of this commonwealth shall be vested in a
governor. He shall hold the office for the term of four years, to commence on
the ____ day of _______ next succeeding his election, and be ineligible to the
same office for the term next succeeding that for which he was elected, and to
any other office during his term of service.
15. - 2. The governor shall be elected by the voters at the times and places
of choosing members of the general assembly. Returns of the election shall be
transmitted under seal by the proper officers to the secretary of the
commonwealth, who shall deliver them to the speaker of the house of delegates,
on the first day of the next session of the general assembly. The speaker of the
house of delegates shall within one week thereafter, in the presence of a
majority of the senate and house of delegates, open the said retuns, and the
votes shall then be counted. The person having the highest number of votes shall
be declared elected; but if two or more shall have the highest and an equal
number, of votes, one of them shall be chosen governor by the joint vote of the
two houses of the general assembly. Contested elections for governor shall be
decided by a like vote, and the mode of proceeding in such cases shall be
prescribed by law.
16. - 3. No person shall be eligible to the office of governor unless he has
attained the age of thirty years, is a native citizen of the United States, and
has been a citizen of Virginia, for five years next preceding his election.
17. - 4. The governor shall reside at the seat of government; shall receive
five thousand dollars for each year of his service, and, while in office, shall
receive no other emolument from this or any other government.
18. - 5. He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed; communicate
to the general assembly at every session the condition of the commonwealth;
recommend to their consideration such measures as he may deem expedient; and
convene the general assembly on application of a majority of the members of both
houses thereof, or when in his opinion the interest of the commonwealth may
require it. He shall be commander-in-chief of the land and naval forces of the
state; have power to embody the militia to repel invasion, suppress insurrection
and enforce the execution of the laws; conduct, either in person or in such
other manner as shall be prescribed by law, all intercourse with other and
foreign states; and, during the recess of the general assembly, fill pro tempore
all vacancies in those offices for which the constitution and laws make no
provision but his appointments to such vacancies shall be by commissions to
expire at the end of thirty days after the commencement of the next session of
the general assembly. He shall have power to remit fines and pen-alties in such
cases and under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by law; and,
except when the prosecution has been carried on by the house of delegates or the
law shall otherwise particularly direct, to grant reprieves and pardons after
conviction, and to commute capital punishment. But be shall communicate to the
general assembly at each session, the particulars of every case of fine or
penalty remitted, of reprieve or pardon granted and of punishment commuted, with
his reasons for remitting, granting or commuting the same.
19. - 6. He may require information in writing from the officers in the
executive department upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective
offices; and may also require the opinion in writing of the attorney-general
upon any question of law connected with his official duties.
20. - 7. Commissions and grants shall run in the name of the commonwealth of
Virginia, and be attested by the governor with the seal of the commonwealth
21. - 8. A lieutenant governor shall be elected at the same time, and for the
same term, as the governor: and his qualification and the manner of his election
in all respects shall be the same.
22. - 9. In case of the removal of the governor from office, or of his death,
failure to qualify, resignation, removal from the state, or inability to
discharge the powers and duties of the office, the said office, with its
compensation, shall devolve upon the lieutenant governor; and the general as-
sembly shall provide by law for the discharge of the executive functions in
other necessary cases.
23. - 10 The lieutenant governor shall be president of the senate, but shall
have no vote; and while. acting as such, shall receive a compensation equal to
that allowed to the speaker of the house of delegates. Art. 5, §§1-10.
24. - §3. The judicial powers are regulated by the sixth article of the
constitution, as follows:
25. - 1. There shall be a supreme court of appeals, district courts and
circuit courts. The jurisdiction of these tribunals, and of the judges thereof,
except so far as the same is conferred by this constitution, shall, be regulated
26. - 2. The state shall be divided into twenty-one judicial circuits, ten
districts and five sections.
27. - 3. The general assembly may, at the end of eight years after the
adoption of this constitution, and thereafter at intervals of eight years,
re-arrange the said circuits, districts and sections, and place any number of
circuits in a district, and of districts in a section; but each circuit shall be
altogether in one district, and each district in one section; and there shall
not be less than two districts and four circuits in a section, and the number of
sections shall not be increased or diminished.
28. - 6 For each circuit, a judge shall be elected by the voters thereof, who
shall hold his office for the term of eight years, unless sooner removed in the
manner prescribed by this constitution. He shall at the time of his election be
at least thirty years of age, and during his continuance in office, shall reside
in the circuit of which he is judge.
29. - 7. A circuit court shall be held at least twice a year by the judge of
each circuit, in every county and corporation thereof, wherein a circuit court
is now or may hereafter be established. But the judges in the same district may
be required or authorized to hold the courts of their respective circuits
alternately, and a judge of one circuit to hold a court in any other circuit.
30. - 8. A district court shall be held, at least once a year in every
district, by the judges of the circuits constituting the section and the judges
of the supreme court of appeals for the section of which the district forms a
part, any three of whom may hold a court; but no judge shall sit or decide upon
any appeal taken from his own decision. The judge of the supreme court of
appeals of one section, may sit in the district courts of another section, when
required or authorized by law to do so.
31. - 9. The district courts shall not have original jurisdiction, except in
cases of habeas corpus, mandamus and prohibition.
32. - 10. For each section, a judge shall be elected by the voters thereof,
who shall hold his office for the term of twelve years, unless sooner removed in
the manner prescribed by this constitution. He shall at the time of his election
be at least thirty-five years of age, and during his continuance in office,
reside in the section for which he is elected.
33. - 11. The supreme court of appeals shall consist of the five judges so
elected, any three of whom may hold a court. It shall have appellate
jurisdiction only, except in cases of, habeas corpus, mandamus and prohibition.
It shall not have jurisdiction in civil causes where the matter in controversy,
exclusive of costs, is less, in value or amount than five hundred dollars,
except in controversies concerning the title or boundaries of land, the; probate
of a will, the appointment or qualification of a personal representative,
guardian, committee or curator; or concerning a mill, road, way, ferry or
landing, or the right of a corporation, or of a county to levy tolls or taxes;
and except in cases of habeas corpus, mandamus and probibition, and cases
involving freedom, or the constitutionality of a law.
34. - 12. Special courts of appeals, to consist of not less than three nor
more than five judges, may be formed of the judges of the supreme court of
appeals, and of the circuit courts, or any of them, to try any cases remaining
on the dockets of the present court of appeals when the judges thereof cease to
hold their offices; or to try any cases which may be on the dockets of the
supreme court of appeals established by this constitution, in respect to which a
majority of the judges of said court may be so situated as to make it improper
for them to sit on the bearing thereof.
35. - 13 When a judgment or decree is reversed or affirmed by the supreme
court of appeals, the reasons therefor shall be stated in writing, and preserved
with the record of the case.
36. - 14. Judges shall be commissioned by the governor, and shall receive
fixed and adequate salaries which shall not be diminished during their
continuance in office. The salary of a judge of the supreme court of appeals
shall not be less than three thousand dollars and that of a judge of a circuit
court not less than two thousand dollars per annum, except that of the judge of
the fifth circuit, which shall not be less than fifteen hundred dollars per
annum; and each shall receive a reasonable allowance for necessary travel.
37. - 15. No judge during his term of service shall hold any other office,
appointment or public trust, and the acceptance thereof shall vacate his
judicial office; nor shall he during such term, of within one year thereafter,
be eligible to any political office.
38. - 16. No election of judge shall be held within thirty days of the time
of holding any election of electors of president and vice-president of the
United States, of members of congress or of the general assembly.
39. - 17. Judges may be removed from office by a concurrent vote of both
houses of the general assembly, but a majority of all the members elected to
each house must concur in such vote; and the cause of removal shall be entered.
on the journal of each house. The judge, against whom the general assembly may
be about to proceed, shall receive notice thereof, accompanied by a copy of the
causes alleged for his removal, at least twenty days before the day on which
either house of the general assembly shall act thereupon.
40. - 22. At every election of a governor, an attorney-general shall be
elected by the voters of the commonwealth, for the term of four years. He shall
be commissioned by the governor, shall perform such duties and receive such
compensation as may be prescribed by law, and be removable in the manner
prescribed for the removal of judges.
41. - 23. Judges and all other officers, whether elected or appointed, shall
continue to discharge the duties of their respective offices after their terms
of service, have expired, until their successors are qualified.
42. - 24. Writs shall run in the name of the commonwealth of Virginia and be
attested by the clerks of the several courts. Indictments shall conclude,
against the peace and dignity of the commonwealth.
43. - 25. There shall be in each county of the commonwealth, a county court,
which shall be held monthly, by not less than three, nor more than, five
justices, except when the law shall require the presence of a greater number.
44. - 26. The jurisdiction of the said court shall be the same as that of the
existing county courts, except so far as it is modified by this constitution or
may be changed by law.
45. - 27. Each county shall be laid off into districts, as nearly equal as
may be in territory and population. In each district there shall be elected by
the voters thereof, four justices of the peace, who shall be commissioned by the
governor, reside in their respective districts, and hold their office for the
term of four years. The justices so elected shall choose one of their own body,
who shall be the presiding justice of the county court, and whose duty it shall
be to attend each term of said court. The other justices shall be classified by
law for the performance of their duties in court.
46. - 28. The justices shall receive for their services in court, a per diem
compensation, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the country treasury;
and shall not receive any fee or emolument for other judicial services.
VIRILIA. The privy members of a man. Bract. lib. 3, p. 144.
VIRTUTE OFFICII. By virtue of his office. A sheriff, a constable, and
some other officers may, virtute officii, apprehend a man who has been guilty of
a crime in their presence.
VIS. A Latin word which signifies force. In law it means any kind of
force, violence, or disturbance, relating to a man's person or his property.
VIS IMPRESSA. Immediate force; original force. This phrase is applied
to cases of trespass when a question arises whether an injury has been caused by
a direct force, or one which is indirect. When the original force, or vis
impressa, had ceased to act before the injury commenced, then there is no force,
the effect is mediate, and the proper remedy is trespass on the case.
2. When the injury is the immediate consequence of the force or vis proxima,
trespass vi et armis lies. 3 Bouv. Inst. n. 3483; 4 Bouv. Inst. n. 3583.
VIS MAJOR, a superior force. In law it signifies inevitable accident.
2. This term is used in the civil law in nearly the same same way that the
words act of God, (q. v.) are used in the common law. Generally, no one is
responsible for an accident which arises from the vis major; but a man may be so
where he has stipulated that he would; and when he has been guilty of a fraud or
deceit. 2 Kent, Com. 448; Poth. Pret a Usage, n. 48, n. 60 Story Bailm. §25.