01/10/07 — Judge hasn't named magistrates

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Judge hasn't named magistrates

By Lee Williams
Published in News on January 10, 2007 1:58 PM

Changes in the employee roster could soon be on slate at the Wayne County Magistrate's Office as a superior court judge reviews a list of nominations for the nine appointed positions that features both new candidates and some who are currently serving.

William B. Buchanan Jr., Bonnie Hill, Terry Hatch, James Myles, R. Allen Jones, Sarah Melinda Jordan, Patricia D. Williams, Larry Riggle and Cynthia Howard currently hold the nine appointed positions at the magistrate's office, which sets bond for those who arrested and charged, issues arrest and search warrants and conducts weddings, just to name a few.

But that could soon change, officials say.

Wayne County Clerk of Superior Court Pam Minshew forwarded a list of nominees to Superior Court Judge Jerry Braswell. Ms. Minshew declined to name her list of picks, saying the names were a personnel matter.

Braswell said Tuesday he is reviewing the list of candidates. While he, too, declined to name names, he said the list featured some candidates who are now serving -- and a few new nominees.

"The process is not complete," Braswell said. "It would be unfair to identify those names because I haven't gone through the process yet."

State law dictates Ms. Minshew submits nominees, Braswell appoints the magistrate judges and Chief District Court Judge Joe Setzer supervises them and sets their schedule once the appointments have been made.

State law further specifies magistrate judge appointments should have been made by Dec. 25. However, magistrate judges whose terms have expired can remain in holdover status until Braswell makes his decision, said Dick Ellis, spokesman for the Administrative Office of the Courts in Raleigh.

Braswell could not give a timetable for when the appointments would be made. He said he plans to interview all of the candidates before making his appointments, but added his heavy caseload has delayed the process.

"I'll certainly be considering all the applications. I'll make a determination and make the appointments," Braswell said.

The magistrate judge position comes with a starting salary of $30,320. Magistrates are initially appointed for two-year terms and all additional terms are four years.

Magistrate judges are state employees and all future terms are not guaranteed since they work at the pleasure of the senior superior court judge who hires them, Ellis added.

Eligible magistrates should have at least eight years experience as a clerk of superior court, a four-year degree from an accredited college or university or a two-year associate degree, and four years of experience in teaching, social services, law enforcement, arbitration or mediation, the court system or counseling, state law dictates.