By Kyle Lovern
October 11, 2013
West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Benjamin has named former Putnam County magistrate Kim Blair as a temporary magistrate in Mingo County. Chief Magistrate Dallas Toler resigned on Wednesday after he was charged in federal information that was released by federal investigators of submitting fake voter registration applications.
Blair will serve as a temporary magistrate. Blair was first elected in Putnam County to an unexpired two-year term as magistrate in 2002. She then was elected to four-year terms in 2004 and 2008. She narrowly lost a re-election bid in 2012.
Blair has been serving as a senior status magistrate, traveling around the state and hearing cases. This is only a temporary assignment for Blair.
Normally, the circuit judge in the county makes the appointment of a person to fill out the remainder of the term. However, the circuit judge in Mingo County, Michael Thornsbury, has resigned his seat. He is also charged in federal indictments in a corruption scandal in the county.
Thornsbury recently pleaded guilty in a federal corruption case. Two senior status judges have been named to hear cases in Mingo County. The office of the state Supreme Court administrator issued a legal opinion on whether a senior status judge could appoint someone to fill out the remainder of the magistrate term in Mingo. The office agreed the senior status judges could make the appointment, but the senior status judges declined because they did not feel comfortable making the decision since they are from outside of the county.
As a result, a decision on who will fill out the rest of Toler’s term will have to wait until Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin names a circuit judge to serve the remainder of Thornsbury’s term.
The new circuit judge, when appointed by the governor, will then make the final decision.