Finally Putnam Judge Facing Charges
Formal charges have been brought against a Putnam County Judge.
Putnam County Family Court Judge William Watkins III is facing two counts for allegedly violating the Judicial Code of Conduct and trial court rules. The State Supreme Court of Appeals served Watkins with the charges Friday.
The charges come several weeks after Watkins was caught on tape verbally attacking people in his courtroom. According to court records, nine complaints were filed against Watkins regarding his courtroom display. No charges were filed from the incident until now.
On the first count, the high court says Judge Watkins violated several canons of the Judicial Code of Conduct.
In one case, investigators say Watkins failed to make a ruling on a divorce case even after three prior Circuit Court Orders and one Supreme Court Order had been issued. He finally did after being threatened of being held in contempt.
On the second count, the high court claims Watkins failed to regularly update the Domestic Violence Protective Order Registry.
According to West Virginia Code, a family court judge is required to immediately enter all domestic violence related orders on the West Virginia domestic violence database.
According to investigators, Watkins failed to enter the orders in at least two cases to the database. In fact, it was days, weeks or months before his office finally entered the final protective orders to the database.
Prior complaints have come from Watkins saying his office doesn’t have time to enter the orders into the database. The court offered additional training to try to help, but according to the investigation, Watkins and his staff still didn’t follow procedure.
The charges that were filed were originally issued July 31, 2012, but the high court could not serve them until now because Watkins was on vacation.
A fax indicated that he was on vacation from July 20, 2012 until August 06, 2012.