Putnam County Judge apologizes for his role in ethics investigat - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Putnam County Judge apologizes for his role in ethics investigation

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A judge who was caught on tape yelling curse words at people in his courtroom might keep his job after all.

However, if he is going to stay on the bench, his behavior will have to change.

Putnam County Family Court Judge William Watkins appeared at a hearing in front of the West Virginia Judicial Hearing Board on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, the Judicial Investigation Commission filed formal charges against Watkins. Those charges claimed he violated the Judicial Code of Conduct.

The charges stem from multiple incidents that include screaming outbursts that were caught on camera, and also accusations that he failed to update the Domestic Violence Registry.

He was also accused of having administrative issues at his office and not returning phone calls in a timely manner.

At the hearing on Tuesday, Watkins admitted to the charges against him and apologized.

Following the hearing, the board released its recommendations that will ultimately be decided on by the West Virginia Supreme Court.

The board wants Watkins to be suspended for 90-days without pay, but only if he violates the Code of Judicial Conduct again.

If he doesn't commit any more violations, his job is virtually safe.

Watkins will also have to enter into counseling that will focus on his anger management issues and pay close to $18,000 in court fees.

"I believe that the 10 years I've served as family court judge, I've done an outstanding job. I acknowledge that I've also made mistakes and I'd like to have the opportunity to correct those mistakes and prove I can be an even better judge for Putnam County," Watkins said.

People who actually filed complains against Watkins attended the hearing.

Mark Halburn told Watkins he does not deserve to be a judge anymore.

"You do not belong on the bench. You don't have the personal or professional integrity to be a judge," he said.

Bob Harper also filed a complaint against Watkins.

"Take your retirement, take care of your wife and stay the heck off of the bench. You are not a judge and never will be a judge; not with your attitude," he said.

The West Virginia Supreme Court will make the final decision over Watkins fate. It can vote to accept the board's recommendations, not accept them, or simply tweak them.

That ruling is expected to come very soon.

In the meantime, Watkins is allowed to return to his job.