The attorney for a West Virginia county circuit judge appeared before the West Virginia Supreme Court this week to plead for mercy on the judge’s behalf. The court is considering the proper sanction for Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong of Randolph County. Wilfong admitted to having a two-year affair with the director of a community corrections organization. The two reportedly used Wilfong’s chambers for some of their encounters. Wilfong also served as a nonvoting member of the organization, and the ABA reports that staff members of the organization testified in Wilfong’s court 46 times.
The West Virginia Judicial Hearing Board charged Wilfong with 11 violations of the state’s Judicial Canon, and recommended a three-year suspension, a $20,000 fine and that Wilfong pay the cost of the disciplinary proceeding.
Wilfong’s lawyer accused the Hearing Board of extrapolating a single act of misconduct into 11 separate violations “so they can stack up the penalties,” and stated that the affair did not impact Wilfong’s ability to discharge her duties as a judge.
Justices questioned lawyers for both sides, probing the necessity of the sanction recommended by the Hearing Board, but also expressing concern that Wilfong had asked members of the legal community to allow them to use their residences for encounters, which could have made Wilfong sympathetic to those lawyers in later court proceedings.
No word yet on when the court will rule.
Coverage from InterMountain.com can be found here.