(Morgantown, W.Va.) Ron Bane was attending on routine court business during the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 27, when he received a call from administrative officers with the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Office of Magistrate Services.
As a result of that telephone call, Monongalia County’s Division 1 magistrate judge will temporarily step in and assist judicial colleagues in the void left by the departure of Todd Gaujot, former magistrate judge.
“Effectively immediately, I have agreed to take on any additional caseload from Monongalia County’s Division 2 Magistrate office as assigned by the court,” Bane said. He added, “Chief Magistrate Jim Nabors is on vacation this week, and after learning of the news, I spoke with Magistrate Sandy Holepit, who also kindly agreed to help with covering the extra caseload in the interim.”
Bane went on to offer, “As members of our community, I wish the best for Todd Gaujot and his family. In every county, the role of magistrate judge is tasking and time consuming, but especially in Monongalia County where the population has grown 40-plus percent since 2001, when a fifth magistrate was taken from our county and given to Mercer County. Every judge has a challenging caseload to manage.”
Since assuming office in 2020, Bane has worked to demonstrate the need for additional judicial assistance in Monongalia County by publishing and sharing statistical reports related to his office regularly with other officials, including state legislators. Bane indicated progress had been made but it was unclear to him whether any bill would crossover this session.
He noted that S.B. 482 incorporates text from H.B. 3174, which would add a fifth magistrate judge in Monongalia County effective July 1, 2023, before a sixth judge is slated to be allocated in 2024. Additionally, on Mon., Feb. 27, Del. Statler (R-Monongalia, 77) moved to amend H.B. 3331 to underscore Monongalia County’s need for more help from the House floor, but the amendment failed.
Bane was appreciative of efforts made in this legislative session, saying “All our local state legislators have responded to calls and advocated on behalf of our county court. It seems like Monongalia County will get more help by 2024 in one way or another. Del. Statler and Sen. Oliverio (R-Monongalia, 13) are to be commended, in particular.” Bane added, “I will tell you Del. Statler got the ball rolling along with colleagues in the House of Delegates this session, and Sen. Oliverio helped make Monongalia County whole again with support from Sen. Clements. Our legislators used the process to our county’s benefit and they’ve been savvy in coordinating and communicating their efforts with my office.”
“Serving our community as a magistrate judge is the honor of my lifetime. I appreciate the time and effort that judges and court staff dedicate to ensure that justice is served. And, my goal remains the same: to provide fair and impartial justice swiftly in an effective, efficient manner, said Bane.”