Embattled W.Va. judge contests ethics punishment - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Embattled W.Va. judge contests ethics punishment

CHARLESTON (AP) -

A West Virginia judge alleges an ethics panel is illegally trying to remove him from office.

The Judicial Hearing Board asked the Supreme Court to suspend Putnam County Family Court Judge William Watkins for the rest of his term Tuesday.

But Watkins' lawyer argued that he must be impeached before he can removed. Lawyer Robert Martin said the board lacks the power to impeach but is attempting as much by recommending the multi-year suspension.

Watkins is accused of delaying rulings, failing to file domestic violence orders properly and screaming and cursing at litigants. That prompted the board to recommend consecutive 1-year suspensions until his term ends after December 2016.

A board lawyer said the evidence clearly supports the allegations. Lawyer Rachel Fletcher Cipoletti said consecutive suspension terms are also allowed.

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