Plan to increase qualifications for West Virginia magistrate judges, rejected in 2012, back in 2013; many judges would still need only a GED

I noted around this time last year that West Virginia has grappled for the last several years with the question of qualifications for the state’s Magistrate Court judges. Current West Virginia law (§50-1-4) requires only that those seeking to be elected a Magistrate Judge have “a high school education or its equivalent.” Most efforts have focused not on law degree, but that the magistrate judges have at least a 2 or 4 year college degree.

In 2012, SB 108 sought a compromise:

  • newly elected appointed or elected magistrate judges would be required  to have an associate’s degree OR have served as a magistrate for at least 4 years
  • existing magistrate judges in office as of January 1, 2015 could still remain in office and be re-elected under the old high school diploma/GED provision

The bill advanced out of committee but failed on a 15-19 vote of the full Senate.

The proposal is now back in 2013 as SB 54 and is currently pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee.