A video showing a Putnam County family court judge screaming in anger at a Hurricane pastor in courtroom was posted online last week. The video was posted after the pastor sued the judge for mishandling his divorce case.
According to WVmetornews, the judge's behavior in court is drawing some attention after it was posted to YouTube this week.
The video is a court surveillance recording from a May 23rd divorce proceeding involving Hurricane Pastor Arthur Hage and his estranged wife Lilian before Family Court Judge William Watkins, in a hearing on the pending sale of their home.
According to WVgazette, the family court judge, William Watkins, accused Pastor Arthur Hage of being responsible for a photo of the judge's home published on a local news website. The judge complained that his property had been vandalized several times after the photo appeared on the news website.
But according to WVGazette, Hage denied having anything to do with the photo and the story accompanying the photo.
The 15-minute video shows Watkins warning Hage, 61, not to speak out of turn and threatening him with jail if he did.
According to WVGazette, a picture of Watkins' home was published with a story that alleged Watkins was not paying his homeowner's association fees. Watkins accused Hague, screaming at him in court: "Because of you, my wife is there alone ... My house has been vandalized four times... I swear to you, you're responsible... I'm holding you personally responsible that anything that happens at my house and I promise you. I promise you if I so much as see somebody breaking in my home, my wife, my family, you and me are going to have a problem."
According to the Charleston Daily Mail, Watkins screamed: "Shut up! Don't you speak! My wife is disabled! She's there alone! You disgusting piece of s---!"
Watkins alleged that at a previous hearing, Hage was with a reporter who does freelance work for the website on which the photo was posted.
After the judge saw the video showing him shouting and screaming in court, he admitted to a WVGazette reporter that he lost his temper with the pastor, but insisted that he conduct of the divorce case did not violate any judicial code. According to Watkins, he "tried the very best" he could with Hage's divorce case, but he claimed that he was "frustrated."
The Charleston Daily Mail reports that the Supreme Court Administrator, Steve Canterbury, decided not to file a complaint against Watkins. Canterbury said Tuesday that he decided not to file an "extraordinary complaint" with the Supreme Court's Judiciary Investigation Commission.
According to the Charelston Daily Mail, Canterbury said he had spoken to Watkins on the matter. Canterbury said: "He's extremely embarrassed and contrite about it all. He feels that they've gotten into his personal life with the picture of his house on that blog in Putnam County. It made him angry."
The judge apologized in the video, saying he was too angry to "be appropriate" in hearing the case and would recuse himself. The Charleston Daily Mail says the judge wrote a request to the state Supreme Court asking to recuse himself from future hearings involving the Hages.
Canterbury concluded: "He recused himself and that's good enough for me."
However, Arthur Hage sued Watkins $5 million after he granted Lilian Hague's divorce petition. According to Hage, Watkins should not have granted his former wife a lifetime domestic violence petition. Hague said Watkins should also have required that his wife undergo a mental evaluation before granting the divorce.
WVGazette also reports that Hage appealed his divorce to the state Supreme Court, saying that his wife would never have filed for divorce if she was "in her right mind."
He also filed a lawsuit against his daughter in connection with the divorce.