Ashton Marra Published

Senators Work to Realigin Magistrate Court System


The study came as a companion to a bill approved during the 2013 legislative session. That bill gave pay raises to some magistrates in smaller counties.

Conducted by the National Center on State Courts, the results of the study were presented during January interim meetings, just a day before the legislative session began.

The NCSC presented three options to reduce the overall number of magistrates, keeping the current county based system, aligning it with the circuit courts, or aligning with the regional jail system.

In the originating bill, Senators proposed keeping the current county system in place, but reducing the overall number from 158 to 149 and reassigning some positions to counties that have larger workloads, like Berkeley and Kanawha.

Overall, the county system reduces the system by the least number of magistrates, but members of the committee tried to amend the bill Sunday evening by taking out any mention of reductions.

Sen. Bob Beach of Monongalia County attempted to make the change, but his amendment failed even after receiving bi-partisan support.

The bill in its original form was approved and moves to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration.