County Commission members were told Wednesday that some magistrates are pulling two 12-hour shifts a week for their $57,000 county jobs.
Commissioner Fred Skillern said under the present schedule, the four magistrates are covering 114 hours a week. He said that averages about 28 hours a week each.
The commission was told that Magistrate Bob Meeks voluntarily works 36 hours on the weekends because he wants the weekdays free for his civil practice. That puts the remaining magistrates below the 28-hour average, Commissioner Skillern said.
In addition, he said part-time magistrates often fill in for the fulltime magistrates.
The magistrates set bonds and sign warrants at the County Jail on nights, weekends and holidays.
Chief Magistrate Yolanda Mitchell, who makes $62,000 a year, said she had sought to have a schedule that included 4 p.m. to midnight and midnight to 8 a.m. shifts. But she said some magistrates resisted.
She said she "didn't want to be a tyrant" and stopped pushing for the schedule that would have given more daytime coverage.
Commission Chairman Jim Coppinger said, "You make $5,000 extra. You are paid to make the hard choices. That's what's expected of the manager."
Magistrates Larry Ables and Marty Lasley said when they arrive at 6 p.m. there may be as many as 30 people awaiting bonds. They said apparently no one is setting bonds between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Commissioner Skillern said Ms. Mitchell had refused to get him information he requested on the number of cases handled.
Ms. Mitchell said she has been "religiously" compiling the data. She said she gives it to Commissioner John Brooks. She said she thought he was passing it on to the other commission members.
Commission members were also upset that the magistrates still do not have access to NCIC criminal record checks.
Ms. Mitchell said approval could not be obtained for NCIC clearance in the current small office because there is not restricted access to the computer.
She also said there are a number of costs involved, including fees, software and training.
The current one-year magistrate terms are running out.
Nine attorneys have applied for Judicial Commissioner (magistrate) positions.
Applicant were incumbents Mitchell, Ables, Lasley and Meeks along with Christine Mabe Scott, Darren K. Hastings, Warren J. Yemm II, Gordon Petty and Clayton Whittaker. Mr. Hastings and Mr. Whittaker have since dropped out.
Commission members asked Mr. Lasley and Mr. Ables if they would consider becoming chief magistrate. Both said they would.
Magistrate Ables said he sometimes stops by during the day and sets bonds since he lives just across the river.