With four Ohio County magistrate seats open, voters will select from four Democrats and two Republicans in the general election in November. All of the candidates will appear on the primary ballot on May 8 but will automatically move on to the general election in November. That's because there are four Democrats and only two Republican candidates seeking office. In November, voters will cast ballots for four out of the six candidates.
The four Democrats include Rose Humway, Charles W. Murphy, Patricia Murphy and Harry Radcliffe.
On the Republican ticket, magistrate candidates include Desiree Lyonette and incumbent Joseph E. Roxby.
- Humway, 73, served eight consecutive terms as magistrate before being defeated for the job in 2008. She is now a "senior status magistrate" in West Virginia and is called on to fill in for sitting magistrates.
Humway said as magistrate, she attended all required conferences and training provided by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals during her tenure.
"Every day is a challenge," Humway said. "The magistrate has the say over everything - how much the bond is, what the sentence will be ... whether to issue a felony warrant or rule the case a misdemeanor."
She said a sentence handed down by a magistrate "can be anything." If a magistrate decides to sentence a defendant to community service, they also determine what kind of community service should be involved.
"Everyone who comes before the magistrate must be treated fairly," Humway continued.
She noted she is West Virginia's longest-serving female judicial officer. In 2005, she served as chief magistrate in Ohio County.
- Incumbent Charles Murphy, 54, is a graduate of Triadelphia High School and the West Virginia State Police Academy, after which he was a deputy sheriff for eight years. He also served as the chief of police of West Liberty for eight years before becoming a magistrate for 12 years.
Murphy said the biggest challenge has been keeping up with constantly changing legislation, which requires a lot of time and research for him and the other magistrates.
"You are constantly having to reboot and re-adapt because it is forever changing," he said.
Murphy said his law enforcement background has helped him perform the magistrate job, though he has been careful not to allow his police background to interfere in making the right decisions.
"The demand is ever present to do it the right way the first time and ensure a fair decision is made," he said.
- Incumbent Patty Murphy, 51, has served as Ohio County Magistrate since 2004. She is a 1979 graduate of Wheeling Central High School and attended Wheeling Jesuit University. She also has participated in the magistrate training conferences provided by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
The major challenge in being a magistrate is realizing the law doesn't perfectly fit in every instance, she said.
"Every case is different," she said. "We have to view the evidence, take into consideration the crime committed, the case law, the background of the accused - and ultimately what sentence will best help restore the offender to being a productive law abiding and tax paying citizen."
She is presently serving her second term as magistrate. Before being elected to the job, she had worked in the magistrate's office since 1980.
"I've tried to serve the people of Ohio County with honesty and fairness, and I give my full-time commitment to the position," she said.
- Incumbent Radcliffe, 53, chief Ohio County magistrate, is seeking a fourth term in his position and hopes to bring more "fair and impartial justice" to the courtroom. He has served as magistrate since he was first elected in 2000 and is a third generation judge.
The people "will get my diligence and responsibility," he said of what residents can expect if he is re-elected. "I take pride in the fact that I avail myself to the public and work tirelessly to see that fair and impartial justice is distributed in the magistrate court. It is the people's court - its integrity and impartiality must be maintained to preserve equality to all no matter what socio-economic background you come from."
He said the largest challenge for a magistrate is the local economy, as he has noticed financial hardship often leads to drug abuse and domestic violence.
Radcliffe is a graduate of the former Triadelphia High School. A former decorated police officer, he has attended West Virginia State Police Academy, Wheeling Jesuit University and Belmont College. He is a Drug Abuse Resistance Education speaker on behalf of the Wheeling police and Ohio County sheriff's departments. He has been the juvenile referee for the circuit court since his appointment to that position by Judge Arthur Recht in 2002.
- Lyonette possesses an undergraduate degree in criminal justice, a juris doctor degree in law and has been licensed to practice law in the state of Ohio since 2001. She has represented parties in juvenile matters, including misdemeanor, felony, status and civil matters.
Her training spans from domestic abuse training and victim/offender training in mediation and effective legal representation for children living in family violence, to training as an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau.
While in law school, Lyonette served as a juvenile prosecutor intern and a mediation intern. Since graduation, she has served as a court-appointed attorney, private practice attorney and has mediated matters from truancy, status offenses and domestic violence to permanent custody in dependency, neglect and abuse matters.
Lyonette said in addition to representing parents in dependency, neglect and abuse matters, she also has served as a court-appointed special advocate in Ohio and West Virginia.
"I think I may be the only candidate who has served in all of these capacities," she said. "I believe this will serve me well in seeing all sides fairly - balancing the information and facts of each case, while upholding the laws of West Virginia."
- Incumbent Roxby, 58, graduated with a bachelor's degree in history from the former West Liberty State College. He retired from the Wheeling police department as a lieutenant in 2004. He also serves as media coordinator for Fort Henry Days.
Roxby said one of the challenges he has faced as a magistrate since his election in 2008 is keeping up with a heavy case load. When he took office, he said, he dedicated himself to addressing a tremendous backlog of cases that accumulated during the previous administration.
Roxby pointed to his professional experience over a 25-year career as an officer with the Wheeling police department as one of his qualifications for office. He said he gained hands-on experience during his law enforcement career, and he has never presided over a criminal case as a magistrate that he did not see as a police officer. Magistrate court is the emergency room of the judicial system and a magistrate is the first responder, he said, adding that he was a first responder in law enforcement as a police officer.