Cops and Courts, West Virginia Legislature

Mon will have 6 magistrates in 2024; Preston to get second circuit judge

MORGANTOWN – Monongalia will have six magistrates following the 2024 election. And Preston County will have two circuit judges through a realignment of county circuits.

Those changes come via a bill, HB 3332, passed on Saturday, the last day of the legislative session.

The Senate combined several bills into one and amended them into HB 3332 on Thursday. The House took it up and agreed with the amendments just after 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The Senate completed action on the bill at 7:21 p.m.

The bill adds 10 magistrates to the current 170 across the state.

The state Supreme Court website shows that Mon now has four magistrates with a vacant fifth slot. The bill fills that slot with a fifth magistrate appointed on July 1. The sixth magistrate will come aboard following the 2024 primary election, when judges are chosen.

Preston’s and Marion’s magistrate count will go unchanged, with three and four, respectively.

The bill realigns and renumbers the county circuits. Mon is now the 17th, with three circuit judges. Under the bill, it will become the 21st Circuit, still with three judges.

Preston is now the 18th Circuit, with one judge. Its neighbor, Tucker, is in a three-county circuit – the 21st – with Grant and Mineral, which has two judges.

The bill pairs Preston and Tucker as the new 22nd Circuit, with two judges. Grant and Mineral keep their two judges as the new 25th Circuit.

Marion is now the 16th Circuit, with two judges. It will still have two as the new 20th Circuit.

When the bill reached the House floor, delegates raised concerns that some counties might lose magistrates under the bill, but they were reassured that won’t be the case: the current minimum is two magistrates per county and that won’t change.

The circuit court changes also will take effect following the 2024 election.

The final vote count on Saturday was 85-7 in the House and 32-1 in the Senate. The bill now heads to the governor.

Tweet David Beard @dbeardtdp Email