W.Va. judge accused of misconduct seeks disability

CHARLESTON (AP) — A Putnam County Family Court judge accused of judicial misconduct is asking the state Supreme Court to delay disciplinary proceedings against him.

Family Court Judge William Watkins’ attorney, Robert Martin, says in court documents that Watkins has applied for disability and plans to retire. Martin asked the court to give Watkins 30 days while his disability application is processed before it makes any decision.

Martin also asked the court to dismiss the complaints against Watkins. Martin filed the documents this week, The Charleston Gazette reported.

Martin and Watkins would not comment on the filings.

The state Judicial Investigation Commission alleges that Watkins delayed rulings, failed to enter domestic violence orders into the state’s tracking system and screamed and cursed at litigants.

The Judicial Hearing Board recommended that Watkins be suspended without pay until his term ends on Dec. 31, 2016.

The hearing board rejected a proposed 90-day suspension without pay that would be stayed while Watkins addressed deficiencies and underwent counseling and judicial training. It cited the number of violations and Watkins’ “apparent failure to take meaningful responsibility for his misconduct.”

Martin argued that the hearing board’s actions harmed Watkins’ reputation. He said the board wrongly cited quotes from a sealed psychological report in its recommendations.

Martin said the hearing board also allowed unsworn testimony from complainants during a November hearing without allowing cross-examination.

Also, the hearing board’s recommendation to suspend Watkins for the remainder of his term is unconstitutional and disenfranchises Putnam County voters, Martin said.

The Supreme Court will make the final decision.

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