June 11, 2007
Magistrate Suspended After Criminal Charges Filed
A West Virginia magistrate was suspended without pay after serious criminal charges were filed against her. The magistrate's son was incarcerated for delivery of a controlled substance. A witness against him was housed in the same facility. On the son's request, the magistrate obtained copies of the testimony of the witness and provided it to the son "apparently to prove that Dailey [the witness] was a snitch." As a result, Dailey was moved elsewhere for safety reasons. The son's phone call to the magistrate was recorded per jail policy. Dailey saw the documents, which led to the magistrate's arrest on a charge of conspiracy to retaliate against a witness.
The magistrate has denied the charges. The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia held that a conviction is not a necessary predicate to a judicial suspension. The court rejected the suggestion that the matter was "entirely personal in nature." A magistrate cannot "simply pick and choose when he or she wishes to be subject to the obligations" of a judicial officer. The magistrate may seek back pay if she prevails on the criminal charges. (Mike Frisch)
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