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Berkeley County will hire assistant prosecutor

January 08, 2001

Berkeley County will hire assistant prosecutor



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Noting "growth is just eating us alive," Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely last week persuaded the Berkeley County Commission to give her a sixth full-time assistant prosecutor.

Last year, about 6,800 cases went through Berkeley County Magistrate Court, and those cases had to be handled by two assistant prosecutors, she said.

That's an impossible workload, Games-Neely said.

"I can't maintain that with what I've got," she said. She told the commissioners she would start losing people from burnout if she didn't get help.

"It's extraordinary," said County Commission Attorney Norwood Bentley III. "That's a workload that no lawyer would have."

Games-Neely told the commissioners another magistrate is likely to be added by the West Virginia Legislature to keep up with population growth, which was about 24 percent in the county in the past decade. The office always faces a heavy and growing trial workload, she said.

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More family law judges will be added in Berkeley County, further adding to the cases the prosecutor must handle, she noted

Games-Neely said that in Harrison County, which has about 70,000 people, equivalent to Berkeley County, the prosecutor has 11 assistants to handle a smaller Magistrate Court caseload. In Cabell County, also about the same size, nine assistants are on staff.

She asked for 1.5 deputies to handle the workload. The commissioners said they would pay for one now until the end of the fiscal year on June 30 at a cost of about $30,000. They will then consider adding more during the annual budget process between now and June.

"If we don't get it done right now, we might lose people," said Commissioner Robert Burkhart. The commissioners still must identify a source of money to pay for a sixth assistant prosecutor.

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