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Fifth magristrate appointed

May 04, 2001

Fifth magristrate appointed



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - U.S. District Court Security Officer and retired Martinsburg Police Lt. Harry L. Snow was appointed Thursday by Circuit Court Judge Christopher Wilkes to be the fifth Magistrate for Berkeley County.

Snow, 56, will begin his duties July 2 after the state Legislature this spring approved a fifth magistrate. Magistrates serve as judges and handle virtually all criminal cases and many civil cases in Magistrate Court, often called the front door of the judicial system because they are the first stop for most defendant. They also handle other civil and domestic cases.

Snow is a life long resident of Berkeley County. He said he wants to help take the load off the other magistrates who have struggled with an increasing caseload in recent years.

"I figure with the fifth magistrate, if we all chip in, we'll be able to catch up on some of the backlog,'' Snow said. First he has to learn the specifics of the jobs, he said.

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Wilkes cited Snow's "extensive experience with the court system" in his press release making the announcement. But magistrates are not required to be attorneys. Snow said he earned an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice from Hagerstown Community College in 1977 and knows all but one of the magistrates personally.

But he said his first chore "will be learning the job. I think common sense will help me."

Wilkes could not be reached for comment. As chief Circuit Court judge this year, he appointed Snow, although he had said before the appointment he would consult with the other three Circuit Court judges. Snow said he submitted a letter and met with Wilkes two days ago.

"He has a proven record as a public servant," Wilkes said in the press release.

Snow grew up in Blairton and graduated from Martinsburg High School in 1964. He spent four years working in personnel in the Navy, then returned to join the Martinsburg Police Department in May 1969, he said.

He was one of the department's first K-9 officers, served as crime prevention officer, juvenile officer and detective sergeant in charge of investigations before retiring as a lieutenant in 1990.

Since then, he has served as a security officer in the Federal Building on King Street. He'll be leaving the job as the lead security officer, he said.

Snow will serve until Nov. 2002, when he must run for re-election to keep the job.

It is unknown how many other people applied for the position.

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