West Virginia Supreme Court administrator Steve Canterbury filed an extraordinary complaint against Kanawha County Family Court Judge Mark Snyder. The complaint asks the Judicial Investigation Commission to open an inquiry into Snyder following his arrest for misdemeanor battery Nov. 4.
"He's still in good standing until an action is taken," Canterbury said. "Of course, that goes with the fundamental principle of American justice that he's not guilty until proven so."
The administrator explained only the state Supreme Court can take action against Snyder. The Judicial Investigation Commission counsel must file a report with the Supreme Court within 10 days. The report can make several suggestions ranging from a mentoring statement to public admonishment to suspension without pay.
Canterbury said he believes Snyder is the first family court judge to be arrested in West Virginia. Snyder was officially elected to the bench in 2002, then re-elected in 2008, according to the administrator.
But Snyder is not the first sitting judge to be arrested in West Virginia's history. Most recently, former Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury was arrested in August after he was accused of scorning his romantic rival. The state Supreme Court suspended Thornsbury immediately. He resigned from his post the same day he pleaded guilty to an unrelated federal charge in October.
Court documents indicate Snyder was arraigned by Kanawha County Magistrate Joe Shelton Monday evening.
"It wasn't improper for the magistrate to arraign him," Canterbury said. "An arraignment is a very simple procedure."
Some people who appeared in family court Tuesday said accusations alone make them question the judge.
"I think at this moment he should still be removed from the bench until they investigate and get to the bottom of it," said Misty Lee, of Charleston.
Ciara Johnson, of Charleston, also appeared in family court Tuesday.
"They put the man behind the desk again like nothing happened," Johnson said. "It's not fair."
Neither Johnson nor Lee appeared before Snyder Tuesday morning.
If convicted, Snyder could face up to $500 in fines and/or up to a year in jail.
A family court judge was charged with battery on a health care provider Monday evening, according to court documents obtained in Kanawha County Court.
Charleston police arrested Mark Snyder at the Charleston Area Medical Center after the judge reportedly grabbed a nurse.
The criminal complaint states Snyder was visiting a friend in the hospital; he reportedly became upset with the qualify of care that his friend was receiving.
Snyder approached a nurse, Stephanie King, on the fifth floor and asked she give his friend medication and make his bed, according to the complaint. When King said she would talk to the patient, Snyder grabbed her upper left arm and tried pulling her down the hallway toward the patient's room, the complaint states.
The documents claim King "jerked" away and called for her supervisor. When she turned around, King reportedly found Snyder yelling in her face, accusing the staff of not treating his friend.
The judge refused to leave when asked by King and her supervisor. A security guard escorted Snyder from the hospital, according to the complaint.
Snyder was charged with battery on a health care provider, a misdemeanor. He was released on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond Monday evening.
Court employees confirm Snyder came to work Tuesday. Snyder did not comment on his arrest. Calls from Snyder's attorney, John Mitchell, Jr., were not immediately returned Tuesday morning and afternoon.