W.Va. Supreme Court Suspends Judge Until Term Ends

By
Associated Press

Dateline
Updated Tue, Mar 26, 2013 4:17 pm

UPDATE 4:16 PM A unanimous West Virginia Supreme Court has suspended a family court judge without pay for the rest of his term.

Tuesday's ruling blocks Putnam County Family Court Judge William Watkins from returning to the bench through the end of his term in December 2016.

The justices also censured Watkins for 24 separate conduct violations.

The Judicial Investigation Commission alleged that Watkins delayed rulings, refused to file domestic violence orders with a statewide registry as required by law, and screamed and cursed at people during hearings.

The ruling rejects Watkins' argument that the punishment amounted to an illegal attempt to remove him from office.

Former Judge Deloris Nibert has been filling in for Watkins after he began a medical leave of absence. The Supreme Court appointed Nibert as his successor Tuesday.


A unanimous West Virginia Supreme Court has suspended a family court judge without pay for the rest of his term.

Tuesday's ruling blocks Putnam County Family Court Judge William Watkins from returning to the bench through the end of his term in December 2016.

The justices also censured Watkins for 24 separate conduct violations found by the Judicial Hearing Board.

The Judicial Investigation Commission alleged that Watkins delayed rulings, refused to file domestic violence orders with a statewide registry as required by law, and screamed and cursed at people before his court during hearings.

Watkins argued a lengthy suspension amounted to an illegal attempt to remove him from office. Justice Menis Ketchum wrote in the opinion the Supreme Court has the power to impose any disciplinary measures short of impeachment.

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