Berkeley County swears in new magistrate earlier than expected

By Dawn Geske | Jul 12, 2016

MARTINSBURG – Berkeley County has appointed a new magistrate to the position in advance of his elected term.

William “Bill” Norris was sworn into office by the Berkeley County Judicial Center Chief Judge Christopher C. Wilkes of the 23rd Judicial Circuit of West Virginia on July 1.

Norris is taking office earlier then his term start date of Jan. 1, 2017 because Magistrate Jo Ann Overington retired on June 30. Norris will fill the vacancy created by Overington and then fill his term that he was elected for..

Norris won the May 10 election for the magistrate position in Division 3 of Berkeley County.

“I’ve known Bill for more than four decades and can think of no one more qualified to serve out the unexpired term of retiring Magistrate Overington," Wilkes said in a press release. 

Norris brings a very diverse background to the position. He has been a radio personality, a marketing representative, a media sales person, and a wedding and event DJ. He is a past member of the Berkeley County Board of Education, serving several terms, and is an active in his community through the Destiny Baptist Church. Norris was also named South Berkeley County Citizen of the Year.

“I think that he’s had so many different type of different jobs and different experiences in our community, it will really make him more suited to being a magistrate because he will see a little bit of everything coming in before him,” Tessa Bowers, law clerk for the Honorable Christopher C. Wilkes at the Berkeley County Judicial Center told the West Virginia Record.

As a magistrate, Norris will oversee the application and enforcement of state laws, municipal laws and court procedure. He will have jurisdiction over civil cases that are disputing less than $500 and will oversee all parts of misdemeanor criminal cases. He will also conduct preliminary examinations in felony cases and issue and record affidavits, complaints arrest warrants and search warrant. The position is also required to set bail and make decisions on plea agreements as well as maintain court collection costs, cash bond and fines.

In addition to these responsibilities, Norris will be in charge of issuing emergency protective orders in domestic violence cases and immediately filing domestic violence petitions into the Domestic Violence Database and Registry.

According to Bowers, Norris will bring a lot of experience to the position.

“He’s going to bring what you expect and that’s skill and enthusiasm and everything like that," she said. "But, beyond that, he has a really great personality. He’s really outgoing. He will definitely bring a lot of energy to the position.”

Norris is a native of the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia where he graduated from the Musselman High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. 

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