Trials & Litigation

Angry Judge in YouTube Video Calls Unrelated Ethics Case re 'Overwhelming' Caseload 'Infuriating'


A West Virginia family court judge who became widely known after a YouTube video of his angry comments from the bench to a matrimonial party went viral is now reportedly outraged about an unrelated legal ethics case.

The expedited state supreme court action, which was made public last week, charges that Putnam County Family Court Judge William Watkins delayed making rulings in cases even when he was ordered to do so by the circuit court and failed to enter orders in the state’s tracking system. Watkins responded that it boiled down to a problem with an “overwhelming” number of cases, reports the Charleston Gazette.

“This is really about caseloads,” Watkins told the newspaper. “To say that I’ve been unethical is just infuriating.”

He said he has repeatedly asked the supreme court for help with a calendar that can require him to hear up to 40 matters daily. A 2006 report by the National Center for State Courts shows he was doing the work of 1.5 judges, Watkins said, and the county has grown since them.

“I do over 2,500 hearings a year. In 2011, I had 430 divorces–the highest in West Virginia,” the judge said.

He did, however, say that he regrets his conduct toward Arthur Hage in the court hearing posted on YouTube.

“I’m still embarrassed about my tirade against Pastor Hage,” Watkins said. “I come across like a lunatic.”

Another Charleston Gazette article provides additional details about the ethics case, which is not related to Hage’s hearing.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Court Hearing Video of Angry Jurist Shouting ‘Shut Up’ Gains YouTube Traction”

ABAJournal.com: “State Supreme Court Administrator Won’t Pile Another Complaint on Judge in YouTube Video”

ABAJournal.com: “More Trouble for Angry Judge in YouTube Video; Threatened with Contempt, He Rules In Another Case”

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