Close this search box.
Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility Supervisor Jan Cochran testifies at Friday's hearing in front of Magistrate Kay Hurst.
In this photo from a September 2020 hearing, Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility Supervisor Jan Cochran testifies in front of Magistrate Kay Hurst, who retired Wednesday. / File photo by Katie Kuba

Kay Hurst resigns, prompting state Supreme Court to appoint senior status magistrate

BUCKHANNON – Upshur County Magistrate Kay Hurst resigned Wednesday, making her the second of two Upshur County magistrates to leave their posts this month.

Earlier in January, longtime magistrate J. Michael Coffman left his position to become the chief deputy of the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department at the request of new Upshur County Sheriff Virgil Miller.

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, 26th Judicial Circuit Court Judges Jacob Reger and Kurt Hall announced they had appointed former sheriff’s deputy Mark Davis, who retired as captain from the sheriff’s department at the end of 2020, to fill the vacancy created by Coffman’s transfer to the sheriff’s department.

The same day, magistrate Kay Hurst, the magistrate for Division 2, notified the 26th Judicial Circuit Court of her resignation as of 4 p.m., Reger confirmed Thursday. Hurst was elected to another four-year term, which began Jan. 1, 2021, in the June 2020 Primary Election.

“She retired – that’s the bottom line on it,” Reger said Thursday.

My Buckhannon was unable to reach Hurst for comment.

Reger said he and Hall would appoint someone to fill the remainder of Hurst’s term as they had in Coffman’s case.

“We’ve already had some applications, and we’re probably going to make a decision pretty quickly,” Reger said.

Currently, senior status magistrate James “Dan” Moody, who formerly served in the Lewis County Court system, will hear cases as Davis has not yet assumed office. Reger explained that once a magistrate is appointed to fill an unexpired term, according to West Virginia Code, a 20-day period must pass during which objections to that magistrate’s qualifications may be filed.

Because of that statutory requirement, Davis won’t be hearing cases until Monday, Feb. 15, Reger said, and in the interim, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia decided Moody would cover hearing magistrate-court-level cases.

“The (state) Supreme Court decided he could handle it up until that point,” Reger said.

Magistrates, who run as nonpartisans for four-year terms, work under the administrative supervision of the West Virginia Judiciary/Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. According to the West Virginia Judiciary’s website, the West Virginia Constitution prohibits requiring magistrates to be lawyers, although some are.

As has occurred in Upshur County, if a magistrate is unable to complete her or his term, the Chief Circuit Judge – Reger in the 26th Judicial Circuit – appoints a replacement to serve until the next election.

An appointee who wishes to remain in office must run in the next election.

News Feed

Subscribe to remove popups, or just enjoy this free story and support our local businesses!