"No, God damn it," Watkins said.
"Don't cuss me, sir," Harper said, to which the judge replied, "I'm gonna cuss you 'cause you came into my courtroom and lied," according to a transcript in the complaint.
Harper said he didn't lie, and Watkins replied, "OK. Well, you're gonna sit in that jail until you pay her the money." The judge later said, "Take his ass into custody. I'm tired of it. Now you call up your lawyer and you find out how to get your butt out and that's to sign over the money. Got me? Great."
Another count in the complaint against Watkins deals with a woman who appeared before him during a domestic violence hearing on Aug. 25, 2011.
During the hearing, according to the complaint, Watkins asked the woman, "Then, why are you shooting off your fat mouth about what happened?"
The woman tells Watkins that "I think Spaulding overruled you for a reason," referring to former Putnam Circuit Judge O.C. Spaulding.
"Shut up! You stupid woman. Can't even act properly. One more word out of you that you aren't asked a question you're out of here and you will be found in direct contempt of court and I will fine you appropriately. So, shut your mouth," Watkins said, according to the complaint.
The final charge arose after Mark Halburn, operator of the website Putnamlive.com, filed a complaint against Watkins. Halburn said the judge failed to recuse himself from Halburn's divorce case, despite having represented his wife in another matter.
Halburn, according to the complaint, said after bringing the conflict of interest to Watkins attention, the judge responded in a Dec. 15, 2011 letter. "Every other witness describes you as rude, obnoxious, loud, unprofessional and generally acting like the south end of a north-bound horse. I chose to believe them," Watkins wrote, according to the charges.
In all five counts, the complaint from the state Judicial Investigation Commission alleges Watkins violated a number of the state's rules for judicial conduct.
Among others listed in the complaint, Watkins allegedly violated a canon stating judges will "uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary" and "avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the judge's activities."
After Watkins files a response to the charges, the state Judicial Hearing Board will conduct a hearing, according to the complaint.
After the hearing, at which the charges against the judge would have to be proved by "clear and convincing evidence," the board will file its recommendation regarding sanctions, if any, with the Supreme Court. The high court will then decide if any sanctions will be imposed on the judge.
According to the rules of judicial disciplinary procedure, sanctions may include admonishment, reprimand, censure, suspension without pay for up to one year, or a fine of up to $5,000.
The board could recommend other disciplinary measures, including probation, restitution, limitation on the nature of extent of future practice, supervised practice or and community services.
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.