Pocahontas Magistrate Objects To Security Cameras In Durbin Magistrate Office

Marlinton, WV – Pocahontas County Sheriff David Jonese made the decision to install security cameras at the Durbin Magistrate office in northern Pocahontas County. It’s a decision that’s not sitting well with Magistrate Janet Kershner-Vanover. She spoke about the issue during the Pocahontas County Commission meeting Tuesday night.

“My objection to the whole camera thing is, there is no place in the whole building for someone such as yourself [referring to Commissioner Martin Saffer] to talk to a client,” she says. “Any phone calls coming in with the audio on this; according to the Judge [Circuit Court Judge Joseph Pomponio], the Sheriff has assured him that the audio will not be used for anything. But I don’t know where this has been received and how susceptible it is as far as the internet.”

Former Magistrate Cheryl McCullough says she has spoken with Judge Pomponio about the issue.

“I spoke with Judge Pomponio yesterday,” she says, “and agreed that video cameras in the Durbin office was great, but the audio was not. Judge Pomponio’s solution to me was find a camera that doesn’t have audio on it, that just has the video and install it; because that seems to be what everybody is upset about.”

She says Judge Pomponio suggests that they apply for a grant to pay for new cameras that are video only, no audio. She says they were at first assured that the audio in the current cameras would not be used, but given past experience, she’s skeptical.

“Then we got a clarification of will not be used’; it was well, what he hears will not be used,” she says. “And I informed Judge Pomponio that my family had been retaliated against on something that was only discussed in that office. Judge Pomponio has asked me to write him a personal letter and make complaint to the Supreme Court.”

Commissioner Martin Saffer says he’s also shares the Magistrate’s worries about confidentiality in the Durbin office.

“I am concerned about confidentiality when it comes to matters in which a person might come to the magistrate seeking a protective order for domestic violence, bringing witnesses in front of the magistrate and having that information broadcast beyond say the chambers of the magistrate’s office,” says Saffer. “And then retaliation occurring outside of the magistrate court; violence occurring because of a solicitation of help from the court.”

For his part, Sheriff David Jonese doesn’t see any problem with the cameras in use in the Durbin office.

“We have cameras down here, what’s the problem with cameras up there?” asks the Sheriff. “Because they don’t want to be seen doing stuff up there; well I don’t know. We’ve got cameras, what’s the problem with the cameras?”

As it’s up to his department to ensure security in the Durbin Magistrate office, the Sheriff indicates that for now the cameras will stay where they are. Commissioner Saffer and Magistrate Kershner-Vanover say they will discuss the matter further with Judge Pomponio.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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