WV Magistrate Bill Rejected

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The Mountain State won't be employing new magistrates.

"I'm disappointed that they turned down a fifth magistrate position. I think a fifth magistrate would approve the efficiency of the current magistrate court system," says Wood County Chief Deputy, Shawn Graham. "There's a pretty heavy caseload in our magistrate court."

A bigger caseload, fewer magistrates equals a tough time for local law enforcement, lawmakers and the magistrates themselves.

"Our calls for service has increased from about 20,000 in 1986 per year to around 45,000 calls last year," says Sgt. Greg Collins, of the Parkersburg Police. "I believe we've lost one magistrate over that same time span."

The Judiciary Committee rejects a bill that would add more magistrates around the state and five counties, including Wood... suffer in the process.

"This creates not only justifiable stress for the magistrates, it creates stress on officers -- it creates stress on prosecutors, it creates a tremendous case backlog," Collins says.

Life happens and magistrates burn the candle at both ends.

"We have four magistrates, however, they have the same thing everyone else deals with; sick time, vacation time, one magistrate being on call," Graham says.

The vote came after legislators figured the 80 thousand dollar price tag of an individual magistrate with 158 statewide as cost prohibitive.

"Once upon a time in the past we did have five magistrates," Graham says. "They cut us back to four. I'm sure that our caseload has increased since then 'cause it's not as if things have gotten any better."

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