Legal Ethics

State Supreme Court Administrator Won't Pile Another Complaint on Judge in YouTube Video


A pastor who publicized a now-viral video of a West Virginia jurist shouting “shut up” during a family court hearing says he has filed numerous complaints against Putnam Circuit Judge William Watkins.

But the administrator of the state’s top court says he himself has no reason to add another complaint to the mix, since the immediate issue has been resolved, the Charleston Gazette reports.

Now that Watkins has recused himself from hearing any further proceedings concerning Arthur Hage’s divorce case, there is no need for the West Virginia Supreme Court to intervene, Steve Canterbury says. “I think the judge is embarrassed and certainly contrite about his outburst, and I think he has rightfully recused himself.”

As the article explains, the judge thought that the minister was responsible for putting a photo of his home on a newspaper website and potentially putting his family at risk as a result, although Hage denies any involvement.

However, Hage did file a civil suit against the judge recently over his handling of the divorce, and also says he has made multiple complaints about Watkins to the Judicial Investigation Commission.

Watkins has been on the family court bench for a decade. Although he admittedly lost his temper, he told the newspaper last week, he didn’t feel that he should be disciplined.

Related coverage:

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

West Virginia Record: “Watkins accused of inaction in Red House man’s divorce”

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