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Looking at Honesty Among Magistrates

Late last month, former Ohio County Magistrate Harry Radcliffe pleaded guilty in federal court to a single charge involving a tax conspiracy. His attorney said the case was about failure to report some income on his tax return.

Other charges against Radcliffe, including one of soliciting and accepting bribes from a bail bonding company, were dropped.

Then, last week, two magistrates in Gilmer and Lewis counties were indicted on federal charges –also involving alleged conspiracies with a bail bonding company.

Much of West Virginians’ attention last year centered on accusations against four members of the state Supreme Court. Two of them were charged with crimes.

But Mountain State residents are far more likely to have their fates controlled by magistrates than by the Supreme Court. We rely on their honesty to give us justice. Clearly, some of our trust has been misplaced.

It certainly appears indictments of the three magistrates are the result of a focused investigation of courts at that level, by federal authorities. If that is not the case, it should become so.


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