BUCKHANNON — Twenty-sixth Judicial Court Judges Jacob Reger and Kurt Hall swore into duty Alan Suder and Mark Davis as Upshur County magistrates following their election in May. Suder and Davis were sworn in on Wednesday, June 15 in the Upshur County Circuit Courtroom at 3 p.m.
Suder was sworn into duty by Judge Reger while Suder’s wife Christy held the Bible in which Suder spoke his oath over. Davis was sworn into duty by Judge Hall while Davis’ wife Brenda held the Bible in which Davis spoke his oath over. Both Davis and Suder were instructed to place their left hand on the Bible while raising the right hand and speaking their oath of office.
According to the West Virginia Judiciary, “There are 158 magistrates in West Virginia. There are at least two magistrates in every county and ten in the largest county, Kanawha.” Additionally, the West Virginia Judiciary stated, “Magistrates use their training and sound judgment to oversee the application and enforcement of state laws, municipal laws and court procedures. Magistrates have jurisdiction over civil cases in which the financial amount in dispute is less than ten thousand dollars. They hear misdemeanor cases and conduct preliminary examinations in felony cases. In criminal cases they issue and record affidavits, complaints, arrest warrants and search warrants, as well as set bail and make decisions concerning proposed plea agreements, the collection of courts costs, cash bonds and fines. Magistrates issue emergency protective orders in cases involving domestic violence. Immediately entering domestic violence petitions into the Domestic Violence Database and Registry is an important part of their work.”
The Judiciary continues to say that “In some counties where there are no mental hygiene commissioners, the chief judge can designate a magistrate to handle all or part of probable cause involuntary hospitalization cases. Magistrates, however, cannot handle final commitment or guardianship cases. In some counties both mental hygiene commissioners and designated magistrates are appointed by the chief judge to do portions of mental hygiene work. Magistrates can enter mental hygiene orders into West Virginia’s Mental Health Registry and issue applications and temporary placement orders after hours and on weekends when needed.”
It is further documented that magistrate court cases appeals are heard by circuit courts. Magistrates also are supervised by administrators of the Supreme Court of Appeals of W.Va. Magistrates complete four-year terms in non-partisan elections. Although some magistrates are lawyers, the West Virginia Constitution does not require magistrates to be lawyers. It is also reported by the W.Va. Judiciary that if a magistrate is unable to complete his or her term, a replacement is appointed by the Chief Circuit Judge. The appointed replacement then serves until the next elections and must run in the next election if wishing to remain in office.