CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Putnam County Family Court Judge William Watkins faces five more charges from the state Judicial Investigation Commission, primarily arising from the judge's conduct in hearings, including claims of shouting and use of profanity.
The charges come on the heels of two charges filed last month by the commission, alleging that Watkins 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.
Watkins was served with the new charges Tuesday, and has 30 days to respond. He could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
The judge hasn't formally responded to the earlier charges, but told the Gazette an overwhelming caseload was to blame.
The filing of a formal complaint means that an investigation has been conducted by the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel and a report given to the Judicial Investigation Commission. It also means the commission has found probable cause to believe that Watkins violated the state Code of Judicial Conduct, which establishes canons, or specific rules, that judges are expected to uphold.
"[Watkins'] behavior exhibits a pattern and practice of an abject failure to treat litigants in his court room with the respect and dignity that the Canons require of him," according to the newest complaint.
The first charge in the complaint deals with a May 23 hearing in Arthur Hage's divorce.
Hage, a Hurricane pastor, filed a complaint against the judge after Watkins screamed at him and told him to "shut-up" during a hearing. A video of the proceedings was later posted on the Internet.
"Despite [Watkins'] behavior in the May 23, 2012 hearing, [Watkins] did not file a motion to recuse himself in this matter until June 28, 2012," the complaint states.
Count two deals with a complaint filed on May 3 by Sharon Stinson over Watkins' comments in a divorce hearing. According to the complaint, Stinson complained about several of Watkins' statements, including a discussion of her child's father, who was also in the courtroom.
The judge said, "She picked him to have a child with." Stinson responded that it "was an accident," and Watkins replied, "Well, honey. It ain't an accident. You don't get 'em off of toilet seats. OK."
"The only curse words I uttered was to [the] effect that the father had been a 'dumb shit' when he got in trouble, for which I apologized," Watkins wrote in a response to the investigation commission, according to the complaint.
"I use earthy language at times to make a point. Ms. Stinson disagrees with my decision. That's why we have appellate courts. There is nothing that even remotely alleges an ethics violation," Watkins said in his response. "The sad thing is that in the time I've had to take to respond to this nonsense means that four hearings now have to be postponed."
The third count filed against Watkins, alleges he again violated judicial ethics rules during a divorce hearing over Robert Ray Harper Sr.'s child support payments.
Harper, who had a pending malpractice lawsuit against the Cleveland Clinic, had been ordered to pay child support, but apparently hadn't, according to the complaint.
Despite Harper having a prosthetic leg, heart disease, bleeding ulcers, high blood pressure, scoliosis, arthritis and bursitis, Watkins cited him for contempt and put him in jail, where he contracted tuberculosis, according to the complaint.
At one point during the hearing, Harper told the judge to contact his lawyer about some money available for child support.