Magistrate charged

Published 8:42 pm Friday, May 15, 2009

AHOSKIE – A veteran Hertford County Magistrate faces criminal charges in a case that dates back to January.

Yesterday (Friday), a criminal summons for simple assault, a misdemeanor charge, was filed against Leonard Mobley, the county’s Senior Magistrate.

The man against whom Mobley allegedly assaulted on Jan. 14, Jerome Cross of Ahoskie, was also charged in the four-month-old case. A criminal summons was drawn-up against Cross on the charge of disorderly conduct by using abusive language.

As of News-Herald press time at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, neither man had yet to be served the paperwork. Both have 9 a.m. court dates on June 11 in Winton.

In regards to the length of time between the January incident and Friday’s criminal action, Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh said this was a unique case.

“For starters, the law allows us a two-year statute of limitations to work an investigation on a misdemeanor case,” Fitzhugh said. “This particular case is less than six-months old.”

In regards to the uniqueness of the case, Fitzhugh said, “This is not a normal thing we see every day – a magistrate involved in a confrontation with an arrestee. That fact alone takes an added effort on our part to see how to handle such an incident. This was a first for us.”

The incident that led to the charges against the two men began in the early morning hours of Jan. 14.

According to information supplied by Fitzhugh, APD Patrol Officer Chad Wheeler arrested Cross for trespassing at a West Church Street residence around 4:30 a.m. on that date. Cross was transported to the Ahoskie Police Department for processing prior to being taken to the Hertford County Detention Center in Winton.

Mobley was the Magistrate working that night. At some point during the time Cross was being processed, the arrestee allegedly launched his verbal attack on Mobley. In turn, Mobley allegedly struck Cross twice in the face. Officer Wheeler confirmed both of those allegations yesterday when he was called to the APD office to offer information before a Chowan County Magistrate. Fitzhugh said an out-of-district Magistrate was used per the request of local Chief District Court Judge Al Kwasikpui who supervises all magistrates working in Judicial District 6B (Bertie, Hertford and Northampton counties).

When asked if Cross ever initiated criminal proceedings, through the Ahoskie Police Department, against Mobley, Fitzhugh said he did not.

“After the Jan. 14 incident allegedly took place, Mr. Cross called my office once in regards to what action he should take,” Fitzhugh said. “He left a message to the effect of when I was going to arrest Mr. Mobley. I returned Mr. Cross’ call and informed him that for us to begin an investigation, he would have to meet with us in our office. He agreed to that meeting, but never showed-up on the day it was scheduled.”

In another part of this case, Fitzhugh confirmed that an administrative hearing is scheduled for Thursday, May 21 in Hertford County Superior Court. That hearing, apparently arranged by Judge Kwasikpui, only deals with Mobley’s status as a Magistrate.