COLUMBUS — Gallia and Meigs Counties received new magistrates this year with Gallia Magistrate Thomas Saunders and Meigs Magistrate Jeremy Fisher both recently attending a training to cement their legal education in their respective positions.
Saunders once served as defense counsel in Gallia before becoming an assistant prosecutor in Meigs. He was recently named to the position of Gallia Magistrate. He is a resident of Gallia. Fisher is a resident of Meigs, where he once served as an assistant prosecutor. Now, he serves as an assistant prosecutor in Gallia and as the Meigs Magistrate.
“They have part-time magistrates in Meigs,” said Fisher. “It’s a smaller county. I part-time in Meigs and my (duties) are one day every two weeks…All new magistrates have to take a mandated training because we fall under judicial rules, the same as judges. So we have to take a mandated training like them. We were both in Columbus for three days.”
For three days, the pair were put through mock settings and interactive scenarios for a judicial position. The pair were also able to tour the governor’s office.
“I thought it was pretty cool because it’s not often you get to hang out and talk about the area (with the governor),” said Fisher. “We had a private tour of the governor’s office when the Statehouse was closed. We met Governor DeWine and he welcomed us, gave us a tour and asked about Gallia and Meigs…He said he has plans to head down our way again.”
Magistrates handle hearings and duties assigned to them by judges. Fisher serves beneath Meigs Common Pleas Court Judge Linda Warner and Meigs Probate and Juvenile Court Judge L. Scott Powell. Saunders serves beneath Gallia Common Pleas Judge Margaret Evans and Gallia Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Thomas Moulton.
Due to size differences between Gallia and Meigs, Saunders serves as a full-time magistrate and has no other legal practices, whereas Fisher serves as a part-time magistrate and continues his assistant prosecutor duties in Gallia.
“The training was very beneficial,” said Saunders of his magistrate training. “Normally, when you go to a continuing legal education class, you’re learning how to win. As a newly appointed member of the judiciary, you’re getting to look at it from a neutral standpoint as opposed to which side you’re representing. When I was a defense attorney, I’d go to defense seminars and you’d learn how to maybe try to lessen a sentence or (prevent a conviction). When I was prosecuting, you were looking at how to get a conviction. In this position, you want to make sure everyone gets treated with what’s right and just.”
“Every county is different in how they utilize their magistrates,” said Saunders.
Saunders said the majority of his work as a magistrate focused on domestic issues.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-446-2342, ext. 2103.