House Rejects Bill That Would Allow District Judges To Appoint Magistrates

January 21, 2005 -- Posted at 9:30 p.m.

JONESBORO -- Amendment 80 allows circuit judges to appoint magistrates to help district judges with the caseload if needed.

Ray Spruell is a former district judge.

"The use of this magistrate in this county made it easier for Judge Honeycutt originally, and then me to handle the criminal caseload, and then let somebody else handle the small claims, and civil side in Jonesboro,"said Spruell.

The bill brought by Representative Chris Thyer to add a magistrate in Craighead County, was defeated this afternoon.

That leaves a tremendous caseload, and only one judge to hear those cases.

"My predecessor, Keith Blackman, who is on the bench now, it has added to his personnel caseload because he can't use a magistrate, or anyone,"said Spruell.

Spruell says help could be on the way. He says there is still hope that another district judgeship will be approved for Craighead County.

"It's just that......who is going to come up with the money to pay for it is the other situation,"said Spruell.

Spruell says he doesn't think this is the last we have heard of this issue.

"It really puts a burden on everybody, not just the judge.....but on the personnel involved. You have got just as much work to prosecute, and just as much work on the civil side and you have only got one judge to choose from,"said Spruell.