Abusive Judge Given Forum To Captive Parents
Michael J. Kelly, the Kanawha County Family Court Judge who has received numerous complaints about his courtroom misconduct, refused to allow a dying grandmother to see her grandson, violated the constitutional rights and retaliated against a respondent who complained about the judge's misconduct to the West Virginia Supreme Court is the narrator of a mandatory video for parents in the family law system.
"You've got to be kidding me," says Ron Foster, of Scott Depot, a former member of Men and Women Against Discrimination. "This is the judge that doesn't follow the child custody law."
"That's awful," says Erin Williamson, of Hurricane. "They need to edit him out of the video."
"Between him and a burnt-out three-way light bulb, the burnt out bulb is brighter than Kelly," says Robert Harper, Sr., of Sissonville, who is a vocal critic of the West Virginia Family Court system. "This is the judge that let a grandmother died without seeing her grandson. This is not a fair judge. A grandmother should be allowed to see her grandson, whether she is ill or not. Kelly denied that. He's not right. Kelly should not be allowed to narrate those films."
Those that have to listen to Kelly include anyone who has complained about his misconduct which has been nearly endorsed and practically ignored by the West Virginia Judicial Investigative Commission.
"Kelly refused to allow my mother to see her grandson before she died," says PutnamLIVE.com Publisher Mark Hallburn, one who has filed complaints against Kelly. "He belongs in a mental ward in a prison-not the star of a state-mandated video. Sane people don't keep innocent grandmothers from their innocent grandchildren!"
And sane public officials, Hallburn says, do not give Kelly a state-wide forum. "There are dozens of family court judges in West Virginia. They picked Kelly. That's outrageous! Hire a professional narrator, not a judge with numerous complaints filed against him."
Hallburn and Harper are two of the people that the WVJIC has filed charges, on their behalf, against Putnam County Family Court Judge William M. "Chip" Watkins. That case will be heard November 27th, 2012.
The class text, "West Virginia Parenting Apart," says, "Father love and mother love are equally important." Yet Kelly has a track record of unequally dividing parenting time based on false allegations and refusing to reverse his rulings even when those allegations were proven to be false. Kelly even stated, in a Capitol hearing, that he does not follow the state plan for parenting and custody. MAWAD responded by filing a complaint against Kelly with the JIC.
Hallburn has filed a complaint with the JIC for Kelly violating his First Amendment right to redress his government for grievances by citing Hallburn's complaint, about Kelly, to the West Virginia Supreme Court. "He will probably use my complaint about him narrating the video against me," says Hallburn, who plans to take a course online-instead of being subjected to Kelly. He also will file a complaint because he sent an email complaint to his lawyer-then was asked to leave the Putnam County course. In addition, Hallburn has contacted Jane Riffe, Ed.D. who wrote the forward to the class text which is published by WVU Extension. She will be asked to remove Kelly from the video when they speak September 26th.
There is only one other worse choice for a narrator, says Hallburn. "Judge Watkins."
PutnamLIVE.com Wants To Review Everything
In an unprecedented move, PutnamLIVE.com has filed a Freedom of Information Act Request to review every courtroom video and all documents of every case heard by longtime Putnam County Family Law Judge William M. "Chip" Watkins III. In addition, all complaints and other documents filed with and possessed by the West Virginia Investigative Commission-related to Watkins-have been requested.
Watkins has been discussed across the country and parts of the world because of his prolific courtroom screaming-including one video where he called Tammy Lambert a "stupid woman."
"The amount of complaints against Watkins are extraordinary," says PutnamLIVE.com Publisher Mark Hallburn. "The videos are appalling. We are told there are more videos of Watkins screaming at people in his courtroom. But many people are afraid that he will retaliate against them if they give us the videos. So we are asking for them. We also want to see every document with the JIC regarding Watkins. Everything. We want complete transparency. Are they protecting him? What questions are they asking? What do they know? We want to tell our readers everything. The public has the right to know."
The FOIA request was filed September 16th, 2012 with Putnam Circuit Clerk Ronnie Matthews and the West Virginia Supreme Court Clerk Rory Perry II and Administrator Steven D. Canterbury who responded the next day, by email, stating, "I have forwarded your request, per Court protocol, to the Court’s Administrative Counsel for him to handle. He will contact you in the near future."
"I doubt they will reveal much," Hallburn says. "I anticipate they will attempt to hide behind privacy laws and other hogwash to keep this information from being known. We have told them that redacting names and digitizing images to protect privacy is OK. It is only Watkins that we are interested in knowing about."
PutnamLIVE.com will keep you posted on what transpires.
Laughs At A "Stupid Woman" Remark About Lambert
When you're a judge, in West Virginia, apparently you can get away with courtroom behavior that has the world demanding you be punished.
From the West Virginia Judicial Investigative Commission to West Virginia Supreme Court Administrator Steven D. Canterbury to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, (D), no one seems to want to stand up to Putnam Family Court Judge William M. "Chip" Watkins. Charges have been filed about failing to follow procesdures, but not for his screaming.
PutnamLIVE.com scored an exclusive interview with Tomblin at a Democratic Rally in Racine, on Labor Day. In an election year it was expected that Tomblin would jump at the chance to criticize Watkins for screaming at a preacher, using profanity towards a senior-citizen amputee, telling a disabled woman to skip lunch to better-afford child support, slandering a Teays Valley resident and PutnamLIVE.com Publisher Mark Hallburn, and calling a Scott Depot woman "stupid."
Instead, Tomblin passed the buck-and laughed.
Here's a transcript of PutnamLIVE.com's interview with Tomblin:
Hallburn: We've got a judge in Putnam County, Judge Watkins, who's been on video screaming at people, including calling Tammy Jo Lambert "a stupid woman,"
Hallburn: Telling her to "shut her fat mouth," why does the State of West Virginia allow judges like him to stick around?
Tomblin: Well, obviously that's the judicial branch, and, uh, that's up to the supreme court if there's a problem there. That's where it should be addressed.
Hallburn: But why doesn't the legislature pass and the executive branch pass laws, that the judges, you know, verbally attack people in court, that they're not thrown off the bench immediately? This has gone international.
Tomblin: I think there's procedures in place and they should take it to the judicial, uh, ethics, uh, board.
Hallburn: And they've done nothing.
Tomblin: Oh well, (chuckles) I'm sorry about that.
Hallburn: Is your office prepared to pass legislation to get that taken care of?
Tomblin: Well, obviously they need to talk to the legislature in order to get a bill passed, uh.
Hallburn: You have a legislative laison. Are you prepared to take a stand on that?
Tomblin: Well, we'll look at it. We'll be happy to look at it. (Walks away.)
Hallburn: Thank you.
However, PutnamLIVE.com wanted to know if Tomblin approved of Watkins courtroom behavior. So we approached him again.
Hallburn: I have two more questions: Do approve of a judge calling a woman "a stupid woman" from the bench?
Tomblin: Good to see you sir.
Hallburn: Do you approve of a judge calling a woman "a stupid woman" from the bench?
Tomblin: Sir, I've answered your questions.
At this point Hallburn was pushed away by a man accompanying Tomblin who declined to give his name.
Shuts Down, Issues Refunds For Short-Time Storm
The coffers of Putnam County are running lower after Waves of Fun shut down Sunday, September 2nd, 2012, and issued full refunds for a temporary storm.
"They kicked us all out," says PutnamLIVE.com Publisher Mark Hallburn who was enjoying the pool with his son. "A short-term summer storm and they close the pool, give us our money back, and invite us back tomorrow."
Except that coming back the next day isn't an option for everyone.
"I don't get custody of my son on the weekend until mid-September," Hallburn explains. "I heard another parent saying the same thing. We can't bring our children back tomorrow."
When Hallburn called Putnam County Commissioner Stephen H. "Steve" Andes, to complain, Hallburn says Andes was rude. "He hung up-twice. Never apologized. Says there probably won't be lifeguards in two weeks. Andes is arrogant. He has two weeks to get a lifeguard certification. Shutting down the pool was stupid and disappointed my little boy. Andes and Haynes have mismanaged that pool for years. Either they accomodate all of the people from today or they resign and refund all salaries paid to them for every moment they've been in office. We're tired of there incompetence! Our children are tired of being disappointed"
Haynes did not answer his telephone. Commissioner President Gary O. Tillis does not have a listed home telephone number.
Waves of Fun is scheduled to close on Labor Day following the annual Dog Swim hosted by Haynes' wife, Karen. In past years, the Parks and Recreation Commission has maintained the pool at taxpayer expense for the Dog Swim after closing the public's pool to the people.
"Shred the schedule. Take care of the people of Putnam County," Hallburn says. "We came out to swim. We were cheated of fun on a holiday weekend. It's that simple. Waves of Fun was built for the people-not for Andes and Haynes to constantly screw things up. Half the summer the tubes and wave machine were broken. Just like Andes and Haynes are broken commissioners. How much money was refunded without a valid reason? Will Andes and Haynes pay that money back?"
Long before Sunday's premature closure, PutnamLIVE.com ran an editorial suggesting that County Pool, in Eleanor, as well as Waves of Fun remain open through September on the weekends.
Shut Your Fat Mouth, Watkins Screams In Court
By Mark Hallburn
The latest Judge Watkins video is online, and it's more shocking than the others.
You don't expect a West Virginia man to tear up a woman. But William M. "Chip" Watkins doesn't act like a man, he acts like a punk jackass.
"I don't need an attitude," yells Watkins, proving that he is the one with the (rotten) attitude.
"He made me feel terrible," says Lambert. "I couldn't believe a judge would act like that."
PutnamLIVE.com met with Lambert to get a copy of the video after 13 News put a small portion of the video on its Facebook page. PutnamLIVE.com is providing the entire video for viewing. You will have to wait about nine minutes until Watkins starts screaming. Really screaming. It isn't every day that you get to see a judge melt down on his bench.
Viewer discretion is strongly advised.
Lambert says Watkins had the video edited to delete comments that she says were even more appropriate than the ones contained in the version that she was provided. She filed a complaint, including the following document, with the West Virginia Judicial Investigative Commission:
"He tried to make me look bad," Lambert claims. And, she is upset that the JIC allows Watkins to keep his official response from her.
Not surprisingly, Lambert compared appearing before Watkins to being in an abusive relationship. She wrote a letter asking never to appear before him again. Don't be surprised if no one appears before Watkins again. Some believe this latest video will force the West Virginia Supreme Court to remove him from the bench. Many believe that is too little, too late.
PutnamLIVE.com started revealing Watkins' outrageous behavior early this summer after he screamed at Hurricane Bible Church Pastor Arthur D. Hage. Please click on the links below for the other videos.
If you have a courtroom video of any judge acting inappropriately, please email News@PutnamLIVE.com and we will make arrangements to publish it. You may also telephone 304-415-NEWS.
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