MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Monongalia County magistrates appear to be on track to have extra judges to hear cases. House Bill 3332 was passed in the closing hours of the legislative session, and it includes the addition of one magistrate set to start as early as July 1 for the county wtih another to be determined in the 2024 election. The comprehensive court bill is now pending a signature from Governor Justice.
“We reached out to Joe Statler and Mike Oiliverio, who are taking the lead on this,” said Monongalia County Magistrate Ron Bane. “And then also to the other delegates that supported us; we couldn’t have done it without their passion to help us out,” he said.
For Bane and other magistrates in the county court system, the timing for the extra magistrates in Monongalia County court system couldn’t be any better. As a result of the rising population of the county, the caseload was rising to the point where Bane says he was taking an average of twelve cases per day; this was before the resignation of former magistrate Todd Gaujot. With Gaujot replaced by new magistrate Tim Pocious and two more magistrates on the way, Bane says he expects the Mon County Magistrate Court to run more efficiently.
“It gives me two more weeks of full time, so I can spread out my cases more instead of just having two weeks of full time and then having to go on call,” said Bane on WAJR’s Talk of the Town. “It’ll change the way I do things, and that’s what we were looking forward to; it’ll bring my efficacy up by at least twenty to twenty-five percent,” he said.
Bane says that he and fellow judges will be able to allow more time to dedicate to cases in the system. With additional full-time staff almost doubling and daily case loads expected to be cut in half, Bane expects to hear more details of a case so all sides can be heard in a fair and impartial manner.
“We were at a pace that, you know, it just doesn’t seem like some people get the time that they deserve to have with us,” he said.
Conversations between Monongalia County magistrates and state officials involving extra judges intensified over the last several months to address the move that Bane calls “twenty-one years in the making” since a fifth magistrate was pulled to Mercer County in 2000. To make it a reality in Charleston, Oliverio was supported by Senator Charlie Clements, who helped push an amended version of HB 3332 to passage. With Statler helping to ensure a unanimous passing in the House of Delegates, the Monongalia County Magistrate Court will be up to the standards that their judges feel it should be.
“I’m excited about having more colleagues to help me through this so we can provide the best judicial circuit we can in the Magistrate Circuit,” said Bane. “I think we’ll have an opportunity to adjudicate in a way that we’ve not been able to do for such a long time,” he said.