State ex rel, Sivnksty v. Duffield

137 W. Va. 112, 71 S.E.2d 113 (1952)



A person confined in jail on a criminal charge or imprisoned on conviction for such charge is subject to service of civil process, irrespective of the question of residence, at least if he was voluntarily in the jurisdiction at the time of the arrest and confinement.


Defendant driver was visiting the county for the weekend. While he was driving his vehicle, he struck plaintiff infant and another child as they were crossing the street. He was immediately arrested and charged with reckless driving. He was convicted and sentenced. While he was incarcerated in the county jail,  he was served with a civil process or summons issued by plaintiff judge, commencing the action of trespass on the case instituted in the circuit court by plaintiff infant. Defendant then sought a writ prohibiting further proceedings in the action of trespass, alleging that he was immune from civil process because he was incarcerated in the county involuntarily. The appellate court denied the writ.


Was defendant, who had been incarcerated in a county after a car accident in the county, immune from civil process?




The general rule was that nonresidents of a county charged with a crime therein were not subject to civil process. However, incarceration in itself did not make a person immune from the service of process. In the instant case, because defendant driver entered the county voluntarily at the time of his arrest and confinement, he was subject to service of process irrespective of the question of his residence.

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