CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Kanawha County Chief Magistrate Jack Pauley is exploring the possibility of cutting office hours at magistrate court, a move that is strongly opposed by at least one circuit court judge.
Pauley is surveying the other nine magistrates on a possible change in their schedules.
Right now, at least one magistrate is in the office from 8 a.m. until midnight. The late magistrate also is on call until 8 a.m., Pauley said.
Pauley is exploring whether to move the end of the shift to 10 p.m. He thinks that could help the office operate more efficiently and save money.
"Right now I don't see a downside to cutting those two hours," Pauley said.
Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Duke Bloom sees things differently. He said he's adamantly opposed to a schedule change.
He doesn't see any savings in the idea and said some people facing charges who could post bond instead would end up spending the night in jail.
"If the magistrates ended up closing earlier, the county would incur substantial increased fees for keeping people in jail," Bloom said.
He said magistrates are in high demand during nighttime hours.
Pauley pointed out that the schedule change was not set in stone and the magistrates are studying the demand for service between 10 p.m. and midnight. They're also looking at the number of calls received during those hours.
"We're going to be looking at everything," he said.
Pauley has been the chief magistrate for about a month. Bloom said he wasn't pleased that one of Pauley's first actions as chief magistrate was to initiate a study into whether the office should be open until midnight.
"I think it's interesting that the first thing he does as chief magistrate is to try to find a way to work less," Bloom said.
The magistrates do not have the final say in the matter. Any proposal must be presented to the chief circuit court judge, who oversees the administration of magistrate court.
Judge Jennifer Bailey currently serves as chief judge. She was unavailable for comment Monday.