published Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Hamilton County eyes magistrate changes

People vote at Burk's United Methodist Church in Hixson.
People vote at Burk's United Methodist Church in Hixson.
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse /Chattanooga Times Free Press.


Applicants for two open Hamilton County magistrate positions:

Christy Jindra

Marion Hilt

Stephen Jones

Galen Pickard

Jeffrey Davis

Janella McCants

Samuel Quattrochi

Phillip Strang

Larry Ables

Bob Davis

Source: Hamilton County Commission

During biannual magistrate interviews last week, one Hamilton County commissioner asked whether the county could cut one of the four magistrate positions to save time and money.

Commissioner Fred Skillern posed the question Thursday to four fellow commissioners, saying that, even though there are times when a magistrate will handle multiple bond hearings in the jail during a night shift, mostly there are only one or two people up for bond consideration.

Commissioners Greg Beck, Joe Graham, Marty Haynes and Chester Bankston did not respond, but Skillern finished by saying the current four-magistrate system could be reduced to three if the 12-hour shifts were reduced to 10 hours.

The magistrates set bonds for recently arrested inmates and sign search warrants when Sessions Court judges are not available. The position is a one-year term, appointed by the commission with an annual salary of $58,000.

The four magistrates rotate on a seven-day-a-week schedule at the Hamilton County Jail.

In the past, the commission interviewed for all four positions annually, but a June resolution began staggering the filling of the post to two each year.

The commissioners are scheduled to announce the magistrates Wednesday, and the terms will begin Nov. 3.

Current magistrates Larry Ables and Bob Davis are reapplying for their jobs. Ables has been a magistrate since 2007, while Davis has served three terms with a one-year break in service.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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