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Judge of the Day: Old Yeller Learns His Fate

Remember Judge William M. “Chip” Watkins III? He’s the temperamental West Virginia jurist who was recorded on video yelling at — and we mean literally yelling at, not just “scolding” or “raising his voice at” — a pastor. In another case, Judge Watkins called a woman seeking a protective order against her husband “stupid,” criticizing her for “shooting off [her] fat mouth about what happened.”

Last summer, Judge Watkins was hit with expedited ethics charges. This week, the West Virginia Supreme Court issued its ruling. What do you think happened? Take a guess….

Here’s a report from Leigh Jones of the National Law Journal:

The West Virginia Supreme Court on March 26 suspended Putnam County, W.Va., Family Court Judge William Watkins III without pay until December 2016, citing 24 violations of the state’s judicial ethics rules….

In opposing the suspension, Watkins had argued that the justices lacked authority under the state’s constitution to order such a long suspension, because it amounted to impeachment

The court was not persuaded. “The sanctions… come nowhere close to the sanctions that would result from a legislative impeachment and removal of Judge Watkins from office, such as a forfeiture of his rights to a pension and rights to hold a future office,” Justice Menis Ketchum wrote.

That’s a fair point. Even though he has no cases and no compensation for the next three-plus years, Judge Watkins still technically holds his judicial office. So if you see him around, be sure to address him as “Your Honor.” Or mumble “You’re Horrible,” and see if he can tell the difference.

If you haven’t done so already, you can watch the video of Judge Watkins’s rant on the next page. As noted in the warning at the start of the clip, “Viewer discretion is advised.”

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