The County Commission on Wednesday named Larry Ables, Yolanda Mitchell, Marty Lasley and Bob Davis as magistrates (judicial commissioners).
Mr. Ables was chosen as chief magistrate. Ms. Mitchell had previously served in that role.
The magistrates set bonds and sign warrants at the County Jail on nights, weekends and holidays.
The appointments are for one-year terms.
Bob Meeks, former chief magistrate, did not seek a new term after a controversy over whether he had represented a client in a criminal case. He maintained he was only helping a friend. The magistrates can practice in civil court, but not criminal.
The chief magistrate makes $63,000 per year and the other magistrates $58,000.
Commissioner Fred Skillern said he believes the work can be handled by three magistrates instead of four.
Commissioner Warren Mackey said he expected the magistrates to each work a 40-hour week. The commission learned that some were working 24-hour per week schedules or less.
Commissioner Richard Casavant said the program was costing a penny on the tax rate, and he said the commissioners had no authority over the magistrates other than to appoint them.
General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon administered the oath of office to Mr. Lashley and Mr. Davis. Ms. Mitchell and Mr. Ables were sworn in by County Clerk Bill Knowles.
Judge Moon said, "I believe that the commission has appointed an excellent set of attorneys to serve as judicial commissioners. The program has gotten progressively better every year."
Judge Moon informed the commission that the five General Sessions Court judges will most likely appoint one among them to serve as a liaison between the judicial commissioner and commission. The judge said the position would be advisory only and serve as a medium of information for the commissioners.