CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Supreme Court served a Putnam County family court judge with formal charges Friday, alleging that he failed to rule on motions, even after circuit judges told him to, and didn't enter domestic violence orders into the state's tracking system.
Family Court Judge William Watkins has been on the bench in Putnam County since 2003.
Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury said Friday that, on July 17, he filed an extraordinary complaint, which speeds up an investigation, against Watkins with the state Judicial Investigation Commission.
Last month, Canterbury said he would not file a complaint against Watkins after a video was posted online of the judge screaming at a Putnam pastor during a divorce hearing.
Canterbury said Friday evening, though, that he changed his mind after finding out that Watkins did not comply with three rulings from circuit judges in Putnam County.
"Case law says a family court judge has to respond to mandamus judgments from circuit judges," Canterbury said. "I didn't know about [Watkins not responding]. That's unethical, so I filed it."
According to the charges from the Supreme Court, Watkins did not rule for about two years on a motion to split up property in a divorce case, even after being directed to make a ruling -- once by then-Putnam Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding and twice by Putnam Circuit Judge Phillip Stowers.
Watkins finally ruled in the case last month, after the Supreme Court threatened contempt proceedings against him.
Watkins allegedly told an investigator that circuit judges "had no authority over the family court" and they did not have the authority to "compel me to do anything."
According to the charges from the Supreme Court, Watkins violated the part of the state Code of Judicial Conduct that states, "A judge shall uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary."