EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSMingo House Members Want Second Judge In Circuit
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Jeff Morris
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Reported: Aug. 19, 2013 4:49 PM EDT
Updated: Aug. 20, 2013 10:19 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
In the wake of a controversy that led to the arrest of a Mingo County circuit judge, House of Delegates members representing Mingo County plan to introduce legislation next session to add an additional judge in what is currently a single-judge circuit.
“The need for more than one circuit judge in our county has long been discussed, but the events of the past week have further shed light on the issue,” House Majority Leader Harry Keith White said in a news release. “We want to ensure that all citizens of Mingo County have access to an effective court system without delay.”
Judge Michael Thornsbury is accused of abusing his power and rigging a grand jury in a failed attempt to frame a romantic rival for crimes. He was arrested Thursday.
Del. Justin Marcum, who is Mingo County assistant prosecutor, pointed out that when the West Virginia Supreme Court suspended the county’s current circuit judge Aug. 15, two judges were appointed to temporarily handle his caseload.
“Most circuits in West Virginia have at least two judges, and the addition of a judge in Mingo County has been advocated both within the local legal community and among legislators from this area,” Marcum said. “We think this legislation would help ensure our judicial system operates effectively, and establish more accountability within the circuit.”
Sens. Art Kirkendoll and Ron Stollings have expressed support for the legislation, which will be introduced during the 2014 regular legislative session.
Senator Truman Chafin has proposed in the past, but other Mingo County lawmakers would not support the bill.
Prosecutor Michael Sparks agrees that two judges would help ensure a balance in the judicial system and ensure all residents get a fair trial.
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