Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

February 20, 2014

Poe set to take over as magistrate

PRINCETON — A former Mercer County magistrate, who lost a bid for re-election in 2012, was appointed Wednesday to replace a magistrate who recently announced his retirement.

Mercer County Chief Judge Derek Swope has appointed former Magistrate Charles N. Poe to replace Magistrate Rick Fowler, who is retiring effective Feb. 28.

In accordance with state code, Poe and Fowler are members of the same political party, in this case, the Democratic Party. Poe served as magistrate from 2008-2012, and does not need to be trained, according to a press release issued Wednesday by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

Poe was the unanimous choice of Mercer County’s three circuit court judges, according to the release. Poe lost his bid for re-election in 2012.

“After losing and being appointed, it’s kind of like being born again,” Poe said. “I’m looking forward to coming back, and coming back to Princeton. I worked in Princeton as a police officer for 22 years.”

Poe served in Bluefield while he was magistrate, but he will serve at the Mercer County Courthouse Annex in Princeton after he is sworn into office. Fowler’s assistant, Kathleen Dillon, who has more than 20 years in the magistrate court system, will work with Poe, according to the release.

Poe will be sworn in to office on Feb. 28. He will fill the position until the general election in 2016, when he plans to seek election to the position once again.

Fowler is currently the county’s chief magistrate. Magistrate Sandra S. Dorsey will become chief magistrate for the remainder of the calendar year.

Fowler, who became subject to a probe by the Judicial Investigation Commission (JIC) after sexually explicit Facebook messages with a woman who appeared before him in court were made public, presented a letter to Swope on Feb 14.

In the letter announcing his retirement, Fowler asked Swope not to appoint two former political rivals to the position. “I am fully aware that you have the ultimate decision on who will replace me as magistrate,” Fowler wrote. “However, I also have to ask that you do not consider Charlie Poe or John McGinnis due to their efforts to defame and slander me as a magistrate.”

McGinnis, who was also a candidate for magistrate, is now an assistant prosecuting attorney for the county. McGinnis said Fowler might have written the comment because the JIC investigator questioned him.

McGinnis said at the time that he didn’t know what was transpiring with Fowler until “all this came out on Facebook ... I knew some odd things occurred.”

“Then the investigator came to me and he asked me questions and all I did was answer them, truthfully,” McGinnis said. “This wasn’t any kind of political vendetta.”

A telephone message left Wednesday for Poe was not returned.

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