BECKLEY, W.V. (LOOTPRESS) Ben Hatfield has officially been sworn in as the new Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney.
A Wyoming County native, Hatfield and his wife chose to move back home after he finished law school at the Syracuse University College of Law in New York. Hatfield had worked for Anelli Xavier, PC for one year prior to his move back to West Virginia. After the move, he took a position as a judicial public defender, opened his own practice, worked as an assisting prosecuting attorney in Kristen Keller’s office, and took a position at the law firm Farmer, Cline, and Campbell.
In January of 2020, he decided to run against his former boss. He thanked his family for their support during an unprecedented campaigning season, which fell in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hatfield defeated Keller, who had held the office of Prosecuting Attorney for 30 years, in the General Election in November of 2020. Keller was able to finish out the remainder of her 2020 term.
Hatfield was sworn in by Judge H.L. Kirkpatrick III and officially began his four-year term this morning at 11 a.m.
“I mean this is kind of like seeing a dream come to life,” Hatfield began. “I was able to have my three daughters, my wife, and my mom and dad there with me, and it meant the world to me. I am looking forward to getting started.”
During the next four years, Hatfield wants to work to put more severe punishments in the hands of repeat offenders but to do that he first has to lower the circuit court’s caseload.
“We are floating just north of 600 cases and the Grand Jury is in January as well, so that is another 100 to 120 cases. After that, we will be just north of 700 cases. We have to get to work trimming down that caseload. If we don’t do that, my vision and my changes can’t come to light.”
Hatfield expressed that he is excited to get the ball rolling and is not apprehensive to start his term while the virus still devastates the state.
“I think that we are as essential as the county has. We are responsible for keeping the citizens of the county safe and, in other regards, keeping them safe within their interactions in the judicial court. I respect the physical protocols, but the justice system cannot stop right now. It may need modified and altered, but this is an essential of an office as there is in Raleigh County. My office will be open five days a week in person, and we will prosecute crime accordingly.”