CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The West Virginia Supreme Court voted earlier this week not to suspend a Putnam County family court judge who faces several charges from the state Judicial Investigation Commission regarding his conduct on the bench.
Justices voted 3-2 not to suspend Family Court Judge William Watkins without pay until the charges against him are settled. The vote was taken Wednesday, but the order was not released until Friday morning.
Justices Brent Benjamin, Menis Ketchum and Thomas McHugh voted not to suspend Watkins. Justices Robin Davis and Margaret Workman voted to suspend him.
Watkins was charged by the Judicial Investigation Commission last month with failing to rule on motions, even after circuit judges told him to, and failing to enter domestic-violence orders into the state's tracking system.
Earlier this week, the commission filed five additional charges against Watkins. Those are based on the its investigation of complaints from people who appeared in front of Watkins, and primarily involve the judge's behavior in hearings, including allegations of shouting and profanity.
The Supreme Court's vote came one day after Watkins was served with the latest charges.
Also Friday, Watkins filed his official response in the Supreme Court to the first set of charges.
According to the first charges, 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.
According to the first charges, Watkins 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."