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Family court judge charged with battery

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Police arrested Kanawha County Family Court Judge Donald Mark Snyder on Monday night after he allegedly grabbed a nurse by the arm and yelled in her face at CAMC General Hospital.

Snyder was charged with battery on a health-care provider, a misdemeanor, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.

Snyder was visiting a friend on the hospital's fifth floor on Monday when he talked to nurse Stephanie King at the nurses station, according to the complaint.

Snyder asked King why his friend wasn't being cared for and asked that she make his bed and deliver his medication. King told Snyder she would have to speak to his friend first, and then Snyder grabbed her left arm and tried to pull her down the hallway toward his friend's room, according to the complaint.

King jerked away from Snyder, who allegedly pointed his finger in her face and yelled at her. Snyder also yelled at hospital staff, accusing them of not taking proper care of his sick friend, according to the complaint.

Hospital staff asked Snyder to leave multiple times, but he allegedly refused. Security officers arrived and escorted him from the building. Charleston Police Patrolman E.J. Tipton interviewed King, who was noticeably upset and crying, according to the complaint.

Snyder was in his office on Tuesday but would not comment about his arrest.

State Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury filed an ethics complaint against Snyder with the state Judicial Disciplinary Counsel on Tuesday.

The disciplinary counsel will conduct an investigation into Snyder and present a report to the chief justice within 10 days. The Supreme Court will determine whether probable cause exists for formal ethics charges to be filed, according to the state's Rules of Judicial Disciplinary Procedure.

Last year, the Supreme Court suspended a Putnam County Family Court judge for the remainder of his term without pay. Judge William Watkins faced seven charges from the commission that he delayed rulings, failed to enter domestic violence orders into the state's tracking system and screamed and cursed at litigants.

Snyder has been a family court judge since former Gov. Bob Wise appointed him in 2000, when the West Virginia family court system was created.

Snyder opened West Virginia's first local public defender office in Summersville in 1983. In 1987, he worked as a federal public defender for the Southern District of West Virginia. He then served as Kanawha's chief deputy public defender until he was appointed as juvenile referee for the circuit court in 1994.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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