Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


March 5, 2007

Mercer Circuit Court caseload swells as hope continues for third judge

Cases filed in Mercer County Circuit Court have increased steadily during recent years and the caseload is expected to pass 2,500 in 2007. According to court records, since 2002, when the total case filings in circuit court was 2,040, the number rose in 2005 to 2,413.

The 2006 caseload has not been totaled yet but officials say it will be far higher than 2005 due to the increase in drug-related cases and family/child abuse arrests.

Some lawmakers and judicial figures from other areas of the state find it hard to understand that Mercer County has one of the heaviest caseloads in the state. There are reasons for that and the main one is the law enforcement in our county. They have an excellent record in connection with drug investigations and other crimes which means more cases are brought to court.

During 2006, the criminal cases totaled 574, which is substantially higher than the 460 recorded in 2002. The 2006 report indicates 422 cases were felony criminal cases, 16 were misdemeanors and 136 were juvenile, abuse and neglect. The difference in the criminal case total and the overall total for a year is made up by civil cases and a variety of other legal matters that require judicial hearings.

Currently a bill is going through the Legislature to add five circuit court judges to various circuits. Mercer has been included in the five since the bill was originally passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee but several efforts are being made to make changes.

Local court officials have their fingers crossed that a third judge will soon be added to Mercer.


Apparently the bill being sought by the West Virginia Health Care Authority and Princeton Community Hospital to allow HCA to make loans to hospitals for restructuring, etc. came as a surprise to other hospitals in the area.

While other hospital officials think the proposal has merit, they would have liked to have been informed before it was fast-tracked through the Legislature and became law.

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