W.Va. judicial board recommends censure for magistrate

Jessica M. Karmasek Aug. 14, 2012, 10:15am


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - The West Virginia Judicial Hearing Board has recommended that the state Supreme Court of Appeals "publicly censure" former Kanawha County Magistrate Carol Fouty for violating the state Code of Judicial Conduct.

The board's nine-page order came days after it began reviewing a settlement agreement for Fouty, who resigned earlier this month.

In a one-page letter sent to the state Supreme Court Aug. 3, Fouty said she is stepping down due to "ongoing health problems" and wanting to spend more time with her family.

"I have been employed as a magistrate for the past 26 years and have worked continuously for and in the best interest of the people of this county," she wrote Chief Justice Menis Ketchum.

"My resignation is effective immediately."

In its order Monday, the board recommended the following discipline for Fouty:

* She immediately resign her position as magistrate;

* She not take office and serve as magistrate if elected in the November general election; and

* She pay costs in the amount of $6,387.89 at the rate of $100 per month.

Judge Lawrance Miller Jr., who serves on the state's Eighteenth Judicial Circuit and is acting as a hearing examiner for the board, continued, "Based upon the Respondent's failure to appear at the hearing; the Respondent's failure to acknowledge personal responsibility; the Respondent's failure to express contrition; the Respondent's conduct which gave rise to these proceedings; and the Respondent's history of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct, the board concludes that the recommended discipline as per the stipulations would be inadequate to preserve and enhance public confidence in the honor, integrity, dignity and efficiency of the members of the judiciary and the system of justice, and therefore recommends additional discipline and investigation as follows."

In addition to publicly censuring Fouty, the board recommended that the Supreme Court have Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants' office investigate whether any criminal laws may have been violated in how bail bonds were obtained and approved.

To read the rest of this story, visit the West Virginia Record.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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