Divorce, so I hear, is not a fun experience. Emotions run high, hearts get broken, money has to be divided among hostile parties. The last thing you want when you’re going through divorce is to have the judge handling your case scream at you in court, in front of your soon-to-be ex-wife, threatening to put you in jail, and saying he dislikes you so much that he should recuse himself from the case.
Sounds pretty terrible, right? Maybe even unbelievable? Well, straight from West Virginia, we’ve got video of our Judge of the Day doing just that…
From the West Virginia Record:
A Putnam County pastor is accusing a family law judge of being “out-of-control” and has released video evidence to prove it.
The Rev. Arthur D. Hage on June 4 filed an ethics complaint against Putnam Family Law Judge William M. “Chip” Watkins III with the Judicial Investigation Commission, the arm of the state Supreme Court that investigates misconduct committed by judicial officers.
In his complaint, Hage, 63, alleges that Watkins, 58, treated him “like a criminal” when he “yelled and screamed at me” during two hearings in May in the pending divorce from his estranged wife, Lillian.
Now, when I read the word “screamed” I was a little suspicious, because judges and screaming are not exactly two concepts you expect see together very often. But, as you can see in the video below, Judge Watkins screams so loud the audio in the clip distorts and becomes almost unintelligible.
Judge Watkins accuses Hage of collaborating with a local reporter on an local news article about Watkins and his wife, Rhonda, receiving a letter from their homeowner’s association about them ‘not being in good standing’ with their annual fees. The article included a picture of the judge’s house.
Because of this, the judge repeatedly yells at Hage to “shut up!” At one point, he calls Hage a “piece of…” apparently stopping just short of a key, very un-judgelike four-letter word. He accuses the man of threatening his family and says he will recuse himself because, “I’m too angry to even be appropriate in this case.” But then he continues on with the hearing anyway.
Things start to go off the rails almost immediately at 28 seconds into the 15-minute video. There’s a slight lull at about 4 minutes, but then it picks back up at about 5 and half minutes with another tirade that starts with the following soundbite, and ends with Judge Watkins recommending of prosecutor bring charges against Hage:
“You’re supposed to be a man of God,” Watkins says in a raised voice. “How come you swear to tell the truth, but the very first thing out of your mouth is a lie. It’s a lie. It’s a damn lie, and you know it’s a damn lie.”
I won’t hold you in suspense any longer, so here’s the video:
And that, friends, is what it looks like to have the book thrown at you.
Video shows family judge yelling at pastor [West Virginia Record]