05/06/07 — Former airman named magistrate

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Former airman named magistrate

By Lee Williams
Published in News on May 6, 2007 2:00 AM

A former Seymour Johnson Air Force Base airman has been tapped to join the ranks at the Wayne County Magistrate's Office.

Eason McDaniel, 42, of Goldsboro, was hired to serve as magistrate judge, officials said.

Magistrate judges set bond for those who are arrested and charged, issue arrest and search warrants, conduct weddings and hold Small Claims Court. The office is located above the Wayne County Jail.

Wayne County Clerk of Court Pam Minshew recommended McDaniel for the job. McDaniel said he is thrilled to serve.

"She submitted my name after I made a personal suggestion," McDaniel said when reached at home. "I applied and the Lord opened the door."

The magistrate post comes with a starting salary of $30,320. Judges are initially appointed for two-year terms. All additional terms are four years.

Magistrates are expected to 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.

McDaniel brings a wealth of talent and experience to the post.

Before joining the magistrate's office, the Hampton, Va., native worked for the sheriff's office and served as a substitute teacher for Wayne Country Day School for about two years.

Prior to that, he completed a nine-year tour in the U.S. Air Force. He got his start as an avionics communications specialist working with radio equipment on F-4 military aircraft.

The married father of three ended his career as a survival equipment specialist, where he packed and repacked parachutes and handled life preservers and other gear, the former Seymour Johnson airman said.

During his tour, he earned a two-year degree from the Community College of the Air Force.

McDaniel officially took office on May 1.

Days before his appointment, Magistrate Judge Patricia D. Williams was dismissed from her post. Ms. Williams, 46, of Pikeville, was among four magistrates who were not reappointed by Superior Court Judge Jerry Braswell.

Magistrates Terry Hatch and James Myles were also dismissed this year. Gaspar Gonzalez and Gary Laws were hired to fill the other two positions. Magistrate Judge R. Allen Jones remains in his post and is currently in holdover status.

State law specifies magistrate judge appointments should have been made by Dec. 25. However, there is no recourse if the appointments are not made by the deadline.

Ms. Minshew nominates the magistrates; District Court Joe Setzer supervises the magistrates; and Braswell hires and fires the state employees.

Braswell did not directly respond to a query on why he took five months to make his appointments.

However, he stated via e-mail, "I received some excellent applications from Pam Minshew, the Clerk of Superior Court. In reviewing those applications, I selected the applicants who I believe will provide the citizens of Wayne County with the level of professionalism and judicial demeanor necessary for the proper administration of justice.

"The start date for each new magistrate was staggered to allow proper training by the veteran magistrates and to provide for a smooth and orderly transition in the magistrate's office," he added.