CHARLESTON - Kanawha County has a new chief magistrate. Joe Shelton was appointed as chief magistrate Jan. 12, replacing Kim Aaron.

Charles King, who is now the chief circuit court judge for Kanawha, appointed Shelton earlier this month.

"I think every magistrate should have the honor and responsibilities of serving the court," Shelton said.

The position of chief magistrate in an administrative position, meaning the judge must coordinate with the circuit and supreme courts and oversee the activities of the magistrate court.

Shelton said it is an honor that the chief circuit judge has so much confidence to appoint him to the position of chief magistrate. Though he now has a new title, Shelton said his responsibilities are the same as the other magistrates in the county he just has administrative duties added.

He will remain the chief magistrate until King's turn as chief circuit court judge is over, then the next chief circuit court judge will decide who he or she wants to be the chief magistrate.

Shelton was a magistrate in the 1970s and '80s, and was reappointed in 2003 following the resignation of Jack Pauley, who ran for sheriff. Shelton was re-elected in 2004.

The chief magistrate has authority over the magistrate court, which hears a variety of cases, from monetary disagreements to bail hearings and preliminary murder hearings.

The magistrate court is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and handles between 30,000 and 40,000 cases a year.




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