Wetzel Prosecutor Requests Help With Caseload
NEW MARTINSVILLE – Wetzel County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Haught approached the Wetzel County Commission at its regular meeting on Jan. 5 to ask that the commission consider hiring an assistant, part-time, prosecutor for the county.
Haught said the upcoming session of grand jury would be “one of the larger ones.” He explained he handles all felony cases, while Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Carl “Worthy” Paul handles misdemeanors, as well as abuse and neglect cases. Paul handles crimes against children, as well as juvenile cases.
“I do all the expulsion hearings and all emergency hearings,” Haught said.
He said that in the past several, trials were set all on the same day.
“It’s very difficult to indict the volume of felony cases that I feel I need to be indicting, and to be prepared to try all of those cases, given the way the scheduling is,” Haught said, adding that pre-trial documents for each case are always due on the same day.
“That really drives you. You are used to making those types of deadlines, and that is the way it is done in some of the larger circuits, but that is one of the reasons I felt it was necessary for me to go to full-time, so what I’m asking is for your consideration on that.”
Haught also referenced recent questions raised by the sudden closure of Budget Finance in New Martinsville.
“My office initiated an investigation into Budget Finance as the result of complaints,” he said.
“The FBI has taken the lead in that investigation, and if there is a prosecution that comes out of that, I’m hoping that the prosecution is driven by the federal prosecutor.
“Having said that, for the month of November and December, on our victim’s advocate reporting, we are going to have 650 potential victims,” he added.
Haught said that at some point in time there will be a decision as to whether the investigation will be prosecuted and whether it will be prosecuted on a state level or a federal level. If the case moves forward as a state prosecution, it would be a “major prosecution,” Haught said, adding that it would be difficult to do with his office’s small staff.
“We have one and a half lawyers right now, but if you go back to a few years ago, we indicted more felony drug cases than Marshall County,” Haught explained, adding that a recent report given to him by New Martinsville Police Department references 44 drug arrests since 2014.
“The New Martinsville Police Department has made significant strides in terms of arrests, and all of those cases have to be prosecuted either in magistrate court or circuit court,” Haught said, adding that most of the crimes he prosecutes are driven at least in part by some form of substance abuse.
Haught explained that U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld II has helped by taking on 15 to 20 larger cases out of Wetzel County.
Haught requested a part-time position in which an assistant prosecutor could still hold a civil practice. He added he would like to hire someone locally if possible.
The commission took no action on Haught’s request, as Haught was expected to later submit additional salary and benefit calculations to the commission.