West Virginia Judge Charged With Abusive Conduct Depicted in Courtroom Video

Rev. Arthur D. Hage, 63, has posted the video below as part of his complaint to the state Judicial Investigation Commission about Putnam County Circuit Court Family Law Judge William M. “Chip” Watkins III. It shows Watkins, 58, going ballistic in a divorce case where he screams at Hage, including to tell him to “Shut up” and accusing him of telling a “damn lie.”

Hage was raising a termite issue in the marital home that the minister felt had to be addressed before being sold to anyone. The judge appears out of control at points, screaming “I didn’t tell you to talk. … Are you deaf?” and “Shut up! I didn’t ask you to speak.”

Watkins accuses Hage of being behind a news website’s article about Watkins and his wife being delinquent on paying their homeowner’s association dues.

It starts out with Watkins saying calmly “Mr. Hage, if you say one word out of turn, you’re going to jail. Do you understand me?” That was a bad sign since I fail to see any basis for such a threat. Hage nonetheless answers “yes.”

Watkins then accuses Hage of speaking with a reporter after the prior hearing and his wife Lillian’s lawyer asked for an order of contempt for Hage mentioning his wife’s mental health problems in violation of a court order.

That is when Hage tried to speak and touched off a judicial eruption. Watkins screams “Because of you, my wife is there alone, and my house has been vandalized four times. You realize that, of course, as I’m sure you’re probably in on it and laughing about it.” The judge continues to say “You, you disgusting piece of …” and “I swear to you. You’re responsible. I’m holding you personably responsible for anything that happens to my house.”

In what appears to be the world’s most obvious point, Watkins states “I promise you that if see so much as anyone blanketing my home, my wife, my family, you and me are going to have a problem. …”

Notably, Watkins appears to start to recuse himself after saying “Well, buddy, it’s personal. It’s personal, and I can promise you, you will not hear the end of if from me.” It would seem recusal at that point is inevitable. However, Watkins stops himself and again starts to beat up on the pastor, including some remarkable threats : “Please understand that. I will resign this bench and I will personally see to it that you never see a free day in your life. Do you understand? You’re going to jail,. I swear to God.”

Here is the most amazing thing, Watkins then proceeds to conduct the hearing and refuses to recuse himself.

The ethics charge has obvious merit given the judge’s personal interest and anger — not to mention his loss of composure and demeanor. Regardless of the merits of the allegations, Watkins was no longer a disinterested or neutral party.

Watkins was also accused of threatening two local reporters.

Source: West Virginia Record as first seen on ABA Journal.

47 thoughts on “West Virginia Judge Charged With Abusive Conduct Depicted in Courtroom Video

  1. Mespo, please don’t criticize this mom named “sl” for her ungrammatical style; she’s in what I call “court shock.” I have seen it, unfortunately, hundreds of times. I’ll forgive her quickly for any grammatical or even syntactical errors. She should be regarded like a refugee who has just survived torture. If you practice law in the “normal” courts, you won’t really witness this kind of thing very often, maybe never. May you be so protected.

    That said, sl, let me address you now. “Munchausen syndrome by proxy” was invented by the lawyers who wanted to show that any mothers who supported their children’s outcries about abuse by fathers were either evil (trying to poison the kids against good dads) or crazy (having an illness in which they took their children to doctors or even harmed their children so they could drag them to doctors to get attention or something). Munchausen exists, but is so rare that it is probably more likely that a mom suffers from elephantiasis. Yet lawyers and even judges are bandying that “diagnosis” around as if it is more common than incest.

    NOTHING NEEDS TO BE PROVED against a mother who is accused of such behavior. Indeed, to actually prove Munchausen, you’d need quite a bit of evidence, but the courts are willing to ASSUME it since there are no standards, really, in Family Court. In Family Court, the judge’s “discretion” is so broad that anything can happen and Constitutional rights do not exist unless you throw a million dollars down at some big law firm to go find some for you.

    Read: http://www.amazon.com/Hostage-Child-Allegations-Custody-Disputes/dp/0253330459

    sl, I am very sorry this happened to you. There is nothing I can say other than IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT and it happens to lots and lots and lots of very good mothers.

    Sorry, sorry sorry SORRY.

  2. It make me sick that people think this was a one time incident with this judge. I myself was recently in his courtroom and found myself in the place that many others have been…on the recieving end of his bullying, favortisium, and unfair rulings. He doesnt rule in favor of what is in the best interest of children. Nor does he allow you to present evidence of that. However he did say that I was a great parent but yet he gave me no visitation rights. YES that’s what I said!!! I cant wait to recieve my video of the hearing. I know everyone else is afraid of his retaliation but he took the only things thats important to me. I hope this “so called judge” get what’s coming to him. I pray for all that have been done wrong by Judge Watikins and I will even say a prayer for him. I pray that god gives him a conscience, a heart, and brings him to his knees like he has done to so many of us.

  3. sl if you see this please let me know I have the same judge and I’m having similar problems with her so please let me know if you see this please

  4. @ sl is there any way that we can contact each other some how privately? I have questions we may be able to help each other, I am taking this to supreme court! If you want you can contact us at crdjm9@aol.com.

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