Wednesday, June 13, 2012
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals affirmed the suspension without pay of a Kanawha County Magistrate pending judicial disciplinary proceedings.
The court noted that the suspension was imposed after a probable cause finding of serious violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct in five matters.
One count involves a citation for possession of Xanax that the magistrate had dismissed "without input or knowledge of any county prosecuting attorney or the State Trooper who issued the ticket."
The magistrate shortly thereafter hired the cited defendant to work at her residence. The employee used the magistrate's car and drove it in a manner that drew police attention. The officer who stopped her saw her push a prescription bottle into her purse. The purse also contained marijuana.
The magistrate contacted the court to try to get the employee released on personal recognizance.
Another count involves a defendant arrested for felony receiving stolen property. The magistrate asked the defendant to "do some concrete work at her house" during the preliminary hearing.
The magistrate was admonished twice in 2004. One admonishment involved her "issuing a protective order from her home for a neoighbor/tenant." The other involved advertising her notary services in the telephone book.
She was admonished again in 2011 "for helping a friend draft a peace bond on which the magistrate later found probable cause to issue."
She was censured in 2001 for "using a racial epithet in the courtroom."
The court observed that it was not resolving the merits of the charges and was sympathetic to the financial hardship of a suspension without pay, "but our primary duty is to defend the integrity of the judicial system." (Mike Frisch)