by Ron Gregory
Harper’s Ferry — A Jefferson County delegate says his sponsorship of a bill recently signed into law by Governor Jim Justice will provide much-needed financial support to relieve the back log of forensic evidence in the state. In addition, Republican Delegate Riley Moore said the bill will provide resources to circuit courts to fund the processing of multiple defendants in civil cases.
Moore said he considers the legislation, HB 2980, to be a follow-through on his campaign promise to “fight for Jefferson County’s fair share.” Currently, he said, multiple defendant cases are paid for by county government. “In a civil action suit,” he said, “it is very time consuming for the circuit clerk’s office to process and track. My bill lessens the burden on the taxpayers of Jefferson County.”
He added, “my bill creates the State Police Forensic Laboratory Fund. This legislation seeks to address a back log of DNA evidence that has not been processed for crimes, many times violent in nature, that have occurred in our community. The bill gives our state police the much-needed resources to process those cases and give our citizens much-needed closure and justice.”
Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney elaborated, “(t)here are over 4,500 statewide lab submissions waiting to be tested. That’s 4,500 cases that are delayed because of a lack of funding. It’s not fair to victims of crimes, the court systems or our law enforcement officers to have cases put on a shelf for an indefinite amount of time. The state police have a great lab but it has not been adequately funded to keep up with the growing case load that will only grow with the heroin epidemic.”
Circuit Clerk Laura Storm also praised the legislation and Moore’s work. “This bill will help generate revenue to put … money back into our county,” she said. “I was proud to work with Delegate Moore on this bill and I appreciate all of the long hours and hard work he put into making this happen.”