December 20, 2006
Magistrate Judge Richard Hollis said he finds civil cases the most challenging part of his job. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)
What: Magistrate court is a full-time court that handles civil and criminal cases.
The severity of the crime or the monetary and/or jurisdiction limitations in a civil action determine to which level of court a case is assigned.
Two elected judges oversee the court.
— Curry County Court Administrator: Judge Richard Hollis, appointed in June 2002 and elected to the 2003 term.
Hollis is one of two judges at Magistrate Court. Duane Castleberry was elected to the second judgeship position in November and will replace Doug Miller in January.
Function: Magistrate court often functions as the gateway to the 9th Judicial District Court, handling arraignments and hearing preliminary evidence to determine probable cause in cases that will eventually be forwarded to district court, according to Hollis.
Types of cases Magistrate Court handles:
— DWIs (misdemeanor and felony);
— Traffic citations
— Administer oaths, affirmations and notary services
— Perform marriages
A computer system alternates case assignments.
Speaking: Hollis said his least favorite cases to hear are those involving children either as victims or witnesses.
“It’s a sad thing what we do to our children sometimes,” he said.
The most interesting cases, Hollis said, are the civil cases because he said he finds them the most challenging.
“The most challenging and the ones I have to put the most thought into are civil cases where neighbors are feuding or contract disputes. They are the most interesting because a lot of it’s discretionary and determined by the judge. In civil cases somebody leaves having prevailed and the other party leaves having lost,” he asaid.
By the numbers
According to statistics released in the Magistrate Staff Study Curry County Magistrate Court heard 6,823 cases from July 30, 2005 to June 30, 2006, including:
— 1,056 felony
— 260 DWI
— 3,303 traffic
— 727 civil
— 976 misdemeanor
— 294 landlord tenant
— 207 domestic violence
There are 15 people employed at the Curry County Magistrate Court, including:
— 2 judges
— 10 court clerks
— 1 DWI probation officer
— 2 compliance officers
— CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson