Magistrate satellite office in Durbin to close this summer
The Durbin Magistrate Office, alreadyﾠ a center of controversy because of surveillance cameras placed there by Sheriff David Jonese, will close next summer, by order of the West Virginia Supreme Court.
County officials and magistrates received a letter from the West Virginia Supreme Court Monday which states the magistrate satellite office in Durbin will be closed June 30. The letter, sent by WVSC administrative director Steven Canterbury, states that he has been ordered by the courts to close all satellite offices he deemed unnecessary.
ﾓThe Pocahontas County satellite magistrate office in Durbin will be closed as a court facility during the coming year,ﾔ Canterbury wrote. ﾓIn fact, I had hoped to have it closed by January 31, however, I have learned that the current magistrate facilities in Marlinton apparently are not large enough to accommodate both magistrate assistants simultaneously.ﾔ
Canterbury wrote that it is the duty of the county commission to find a way to provide space for the magistrates.
ﾓIt is imperative that you begin to design and build appropriate workspace for each of the magistrate assistants who will soon be working at Marlinton every work day,ﾔ the letter states. ﾓIf your courthouse does not have sufficient space to accommodate the magistrate court adequately ﾖas is the case in several other counties ﾖthen I would suggest you work with Chief Judge Pomponio, who also serves as the administrator of the Pocahontas magistrate court, in determining any location other than the Pocahontas County courthouse for the magistrates.ﾔ
The countyﾒs lease for the Durbin office ends in June. Canterbury said the county has until then to remove all court-owned materials from the facility.
Jonese said he plans to appeal the decision to keep the office open longer than the original closing date of January 31. The sheriff said that even if an office has to be maintained in Durbin, the county-owned building at Frank would be less costly than the Main Street facility where it is now located.
Cameras in the Durbin Magistrate office were the center of a controversy last fall after one magistrate and a group of northern county residents complained that the cameras invaded the privacy of the people who came to the office.
Jonese, backed by Chief Judge Joseph Pomponio, said the cameras would stay.
However, the sheriff was later notified by the Federal Communications Corporation that the cameras heﾒd installed should not have been sold.
ﾓI didnﾒt know that when I bought them,ﾔ the sheriff said. The cameras came from Sportsmanﾒs Guide, he said, because other cameras would have cost $2,700 he didnﾒt have in his budget.
If the office at Durbin closes, Jonese said he would remove the cameras; however, if the office remains open, heﾒll install the old cameras that were used in the jail in Marlinton.
ﾓUnlike the ones that are up there now, that were never activated, these will be fed into my office and 9-1-1 to monitor the entryway,ﾔ Jonese said. ﾓThe other cameras were just a visual deterrent.ﾔ
Magistrates Kathy Beverage and Janet Kershner-Vanover wereﾠ unavailable for comment.
The Durbin office opened as a part-time office in 1977 when the county changed from a Justice of the Peace to the magistrate court system. It has served the upper end of the county three days a week for 34 years. No hearings are held there; however, the office is open for defendants to pay fines and other non-hearing related issues.