Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Wilfong

Supreme Court of West Virginia

June 3, 2019

In the Matter of: Carrie E. Wilfong Magistrate of Pocahontas County

          MEMORANDUM DECISION

         On February 25, 2019, Judicial Disciplinary Counsel ("JDC") filed a Motion to Suspend Without Pay Respondent Carrie E. Wilfong, a Magistrate of Pocahontas County, West Virginia. By our order of February 26, 2019, Magistrate Wilfong was suspended without pay pursuant to Rule 2.14(d)(2) of the West Virginia Rules of Judicial Disciplinary Procedure following a finding of probable cause that she engaged in a serious violation of the West Virginia Code of Judicial Conduct. On March 13, 2019, Magistrate Wilfong requested a hearing, and the matter was heard by this Court on May 15, 2019.

         This Court has before it the memorandum report of JDC with exhibits and Magistrate's Wilfong's response. Following the arguments of the parties, this Court finds that the West Virginia Rules of Judicial Conduct support Magistrate Wilfong's temporary suspension without pay.[1] Upon review of the memorandum report of JDC, Magistrate Wilfong's response and the arguments of the parties, a memorandum decision is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

         This Court has the power to suspend a magistrate without pay based upon an allegation that he or she has acted in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct. See In re Fouty, 229 W.Va. 256, 728 S.E.2d 140 (2012) (stating Court has authority to suspend magistrate judge with or without pay until underlying disciplinary proceeding has been completed). Rule 2.14(d)(2) of the Rules of Judicial Disciplinary Procedure provides that:

If the Court finds probable cause pursuant to Rule 2.14(c) to believe that a judge has engaged or is currently engaging in a serious violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct or has become unable or unwilling to perform official duties, the Court may direct that the judge not hear any further civil or criminal matters or perform other judicial functions while the matter is pending, with or without pay.

         Consistent with Rule 2.14(d)(2), we have recognized that "[w]hen the integrity of the judiciary is placed into question by the action or conduct of any judge, this Court is authorized to impose an interim suspension pending the disposition of the charges against the judge or until the underlying judicial disciplinary proceeding is completed." In re Grubb, 187 W.Va. 228, 231, 417 S.E.2d 919, 922 (1992).

         I. Prior Proceeding

         In 2018, this Court suspended Magistrate Wilfong without pay in Case No. 18-0891 following allegations that Magistrate Wilfong missed an excessive amount of work and had been intoxicated both at a 2015 magistrates' conference and while on the bench. The Judicial Hearing Board ("Board") found that: Magistrate Wilfong admitted she has suffered from addiction to drugs legally prescribed to her over a period of approximately fifteen years and this prescription drug addiction had negatively impacted the performance of her judicial duties; she had averred that she successfully discontinued the use of the prescribed drugs to which she had become addicted with the assistance of medical professionals; and she agreed the Lawyer Assistance Program ("WVJLAP") was necessary to help her maintain compliance with a program developed to prevent a recurrence of her prescription drug addiction that may negatively impact the performance of her judicial duties.

         As part of the January 2018 WVJLAP monitoring agreement, Magistrate Wilfong agreed to "[r]emain abstinent from all alcohol, drugs, and other mind or mood-altering substances, except those prescription medications, which approved evaluators or treatment providers shall deem appropriate for a sitting member of the Judiciary." (Emphasis added).

         In June 2018, WVJLAP suspended Magistrate Wilfong's monitoring agreement due to noncompliance following drug tests showing significant increases in hydrocodone and benzodiazepines. She submitted to a residential evaluation at the Farley Center in July 2018 where it was determined that Magistrate Wilfong had a mild alcohol use disorder, moderate opioid use disorder and severe sedative/hypnotic/anxiolytic use disorder. Magistrate Wilfong was reinstated to the WVJLAP program in November 2018. The original monitoring agreement was then revised and Magistrate Wilfong agreed "to abide by all terms and conditions of [the] original Monitoring Agrement [with amendments not applicable here.]"

         The November 20, 2018 order of the Board provided, in part:

Both parties understand, acknowledge and agree that should [Magistrate Wilfong] at any time fail to abide by any of the terms of the WVJLAP supervision including, but not limited to, any failed drug tests or refusal to follow directions, that the Judicial Investigation Commission will immediately begin the process to remove her from office via Rule 2.7 of the Rules of Judicial Disciplinary Procedure.

         This Court adopted the Board's recommendation, and on January 10, 2019, we ordered that:

(1) [Magistrate Wilfong] shall be, and she hereby is, REPRIMANDED for her violations of Rules 1.2, 2.5, 2.16, and 3.1 of the Code of Judicial Conduct;
(2)[Magistrate Wilfong] shall be, and she hereby is, immediately reinstated to her position of Magistrate ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.