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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Video Gone Viral all Over the World: Family Court Judge Going Berserk. Meanwhile, Judiciary Protects Their Own.

By Eric Ross, Ph.D., Investigative Reporter, National Writers' Syndicate

Magyn Kelly of "Kelly's
Court" on FOX News:
Judge Watkins gave
Ms. Hage everything
she wanted, and then he
admitted he had a
"personal problem"
with Art Hage.
As we'd promised, this video has gone viral. If you have the volume on your computer turned up, turn it down; you might also want to put some earplugs in. This video may blow away your speakers and startle people in your household. Judge Watkins’ blood-curdling screams max out the range of sound that the microphones in the courtroom can handle.  The judge roars as if possessed, making transcription of his disgustingly abusive speech quite difficult.

Since the video was first released by the West Virginia’s online PutnamLIVE.com paperless (green) newspaper, it has gone viral, making rounds all over the world. See, for example:

FOX News: Judge loses temper at divorce hearing in West Virginia

West Virginia Metro News: Putnam Judge's Rant Posted Online

Above The Law: Shut Up When I am Talking to You 

West Virginia Charleston Gazette: The latest in the Putnam judge – Pastor feud 

MSN: Leaked video shows judge's epic courtroom meltdown 

While many news outlets eventually covered Judge Watkins' monumental tantrum, it was PutnamLIVE, which aired the video first and provides ongoing coverage of the local events, unlike the virtual news blackout by the traditional media.

What the Video Shows: Judge William M. “Chip” Watkins III is going berserk, screaming at a local pastor

The judge is accusing Rev. Arthur D. Hage of allegedly talking to the media after a previous hearing, just a day before. The Judge referrers to the media as “your little buddies.”

The unrelated article about the judge was published in PutnamLIVE, entirely on the initiative of its Publisher Mark Hallburn.  It had nothing to do with Reverend Arthur Hage or his divorce case. Yet, Judge Watkins lets it all loose like a hoodlum in his dramatic theatrical performance, threatening to incarcerate pastor Hage for life, then hitting him with large fines and orders to pay all sorts of penalties, in full knowledge that the old, sickly man has no sources of income.  Judge Watkins’ real source of ire was, perhaps, his realization that some information about his abusive behavior and rulings has begun leaking out of his courthouse into the local press.

Shortly after the hearing started, Watkins said with an emphatic threat in his voice,

“Mr. Hage, if you say one word out of turn, you’re going to jail. Do you understand me?”

“Yes,” replied pastor Hage calmly.

It is a matter of common knowledge that lawyers in the courtroom routinely interrupt litigants and witnesses to confuse and obfuscate the issues. The 62-year-old Rev.  Arthur Hage, meanwhile, is self-represented and has all the right in the world to feel that this judge is continually railroading him, by putting on the record false allegations against him, as if they were factual.

Watkins was already pissed at Hage even before he wriggled his overweight body of a schoolyard bully into his oversized black robe. Judge Watkins screams at pastor Hage for about the first 8 minutes and 40 seconds, out of a 15-minutes “hearing” that was dangerous to anyone’s sense of hearing.

On May 22, a day prior, Watkins heard a motion made by Lillian Hage’s attorney, Ms. Christine Wallace demanding that Art Hage be held in contempt. The Pastor’s “crime” alleged in the motion was that he spoke with “third parties” about Lillian’s mental health problems in violation of the permanent protective order, which the same judge Watkins had issued and incorporated in their final divorce decree.

When pastor Hage attempted to say something in his defense against Judge Watkins’ off-the-wall accusation, Judge Watkins screeched,
“Shut up! Did I tell you to speak?”

Then, Watkins growls “You, you disgusting piece of …” and pauses for a moment, probably remembering that he is, after all, being recorded by a live courtroom video camera. Upon resuming his threats, Watkins shakes his index finger at Hage, growling:

“I swear to you. You’re responsible. I’m holding you personably responsible for anything that happens to my house… Well, buddy, it’s personal. It’s personal, and I can promise you, you will not hear the end of if from me.”

In so doing, Judge Watkins says the truth, for a change, as he goes after the pastor with vengeance.

It appears that Judge Watkins is his zeal to squash "The Man of God" reveals a conspiracy to do so with absolute impunity: he says, "I tell you what... I've already contacted the Supreme Court..." but then he shuts up, probably realizing that he has said too much.

For a moment, Watkins takes a breath and starts to recuse himself from the hearing. However, he stops in mid-sentence only to say, “I’m too angry to even be appropriate in this case.” Nevertheless, he continues to berate, denigrate and insult pastor Arthur Hage, and makes multiple threats to have him incarcerated… for life!

“You’re personally responsible,” Watkins roared on.
“I would resign this bench but I will personally see to it that you never see a free day in your life! … Do you understand? You’re going to jail!  I swear to God!”

Chances are Judge Watkins’ real reasons for putting on a show of self-righteous anger is an attempt to control by intimidation, as other litigants have apparently begun to come forward with complaints about this type of treatment they get in his courtroom.

A few minutes into the hearing, Watkins calms down a little, and apologizes… to Lillian Hage and her attorney, Ms. Wallace. Did he insult them?  Or did he scream at, insult and berate Reverend Arthur Hage?  At this point the Judge admits (talking to Lillian and her attorney Ms. Wallace ) that he is “very upset,” yet Watkins refuses to recuse himself from the hearing until he does more damage to Rev. Hage.

Judge Watkins (The "God") Calling Witnesses "Liars," While Lying About Them 

Family Court Judge William
M. “Chip” Watkins III, "The God."
After Watkins ordered Reverend Hage, already saddled with all kinds of payments, to pay large sums of money to Ms. Wallce, Arthur Hage tried to explain he didn’t have money. Watkins instantly “lost it” again in a Grand Opera Finale fashion:

“You’re supposed to be a man of God,” Watkins screeches. “How come you swear to tell the truth, but the very first thing out of your mouth is a lie? It’s a lie! It’s a damn lie, and you know it’s a damn lie!!!”

And that’s the crux of the issue. No matter what the evidence shows, no matter what the facts of the case, no matter what “the Man of God” (Reverend Art Hage) or any litigant has to say, Judge Watkins (a self-appointed God) already knows that “it is a damn lie!”

Truth be told, Judge Watkins symbolizes what many “family” court judges do across the land – abuse their power to disregard the evidence in order to attain political capital for themselves, and to re-distribute the wealth in accordance with the Duluth Model of men as “oppressors” and women as “oppressed”. While at it, these judges toss a good deal of the proceeds of sale of the litigants’ property, as well as excessive fees, to their personal power base, lawyers, while often leaving old men with nothing to live on, or worse – saddling them with “support” obligations greater than their best earnings in their heyday.

When Hage as much as attempted to talk, Watkins screamed: “Shut up! I didn’t tell you to talk! Did I tell you to talk? What did I tell you right at the beginning of the hearing? Are you deaf?”

Later in the hearing, Watkins granted a motion by Ms. Wallace that nearly $1,500 be taken from Arthur’s share of the proceeds from the sale of the house to cover expenses, including her fees. Ms. Wallace, meanwhile, is an employee of the Legal Aid of West Virginia, her liberal fees generously paid by the taxpayers. But that is not enough: the 62-year-old pastor will be punished again and again for... being a man in the family court, for being a Christian, for being a pastor, for every attempt to open his mouth in defense of himself in his meek attempts to assert the truth.

Apparently, after Judge Watkins ordered the marital house to be sold, Reverend Hage informed the realtor that a part of his house was termite-infested. Aside from a moral obligation to make a disclosure, there are penalties by law to the seller and realtor for failure to disclose. Needless to say, Judge Watkins qualified pastor Hage’s disclosure as “an attempt to torpedo the deal,” and a violation of the protective order, no less. Judge Watkins said that he was going to ask Putnam County Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia to bring criminal charges against Hage:
Dr. Arthur  Hage, "The Man of God"
as Judge Watkins mockingly called
him, campaigned a couple of years
ago, as then Pastor  of a local  church,
against the local strip club called
"Pink Pony".

“I am going to refer this to the prosecuting attorney with a strong recommendation he be prosecuted for violating the protective order,” Watkins said. “Maybe a little time in the Western Regional Jail will straighten you out.”

If the County Prosecutor is mindful of his political career, he will make the above just an empty threat, but you never know what the state's party bosses will decide would be a politically-correct course of action.

The Aftermath: Judiciary Covers Up for the Abusive Judge

Pastor Hage told the Charleston Gazette he had nothing to do with the picture of the Judge's house at PutnamLIVE.com and no affiliation with the website: “I don't even know where he lives. I knew nothing about the article,” Hage said. “He wouldn't let me talk, so all I could do was sit there and take it.”

Christine Wallace, an attorney with Legal Aid of West Virginia who represents Lillian Hage, wrote in an email to the Gazette that she was "appalled that Mr. Hage released to the public and media a video of confidential family court proceedings."  − Really? Family court attorneys want their shenanigans covered in a veil of secrecy, routinely using the excuse of “confidentiality.”  It must be noted that Rev. Hage’s five children are all grown up, the youngest being in her 20s.

State Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury said he watched the video of the hearing:

“Obviously the judge lost his temper. Judges are humans, they can lose their temper,” Canterbury said. “Ideally, he would've called a recess, regained his composure and come back even-tempered and he didn't.”

− No, Sir. Ideally a judge would be fair, not just pretending to be fair.  And no, Judge Watkins did not “just loose his temper,” he acted like an unbridled Nazi dictator. He has absolutely no place on the bench. If he is such a "valuable member" of the profession, let him earn a living arguing cases, not adjudicating them, although disbarring him permanently would be more appropriate. Let us remind you that this is a judge who "cancels" parental rights on a far less egregious behavior than his own.

Reverend Hage has since filed an ethics complaint against Judge Watkins. After having caused enormous damage to Reverend Hage, Judge Watkins has since recused himself from the case, leaving it up to other members of the judiciary to uphold his unjust rulings – a tactic routinely used by the most egregiously abusive family court judges.

"Someone's got to give him a mental health test," said Fox News Legal Analyst Mercedes Colwin. "Unbelievable!" She also said, "This is absolutely insane... I'm sure the administrative judge is saying, “Get this guy off the bench.”" –Well, not so fast, Mercedes.  This is not television, but real life.

The thought might have crossed his mind, but that’s not what the Administrative Judge actually did.
The West Virginia Supreme Court administrator Steve Canterbury since jumped into action, mostly to show that the judiciary protects their own: he said he won't file a complaint against Putnam Family Court judge Watkins. He said that because Judge William Watkins has recused himself from the Rev. Arthur Hage's divorce case, a complaint is “not warranted.” 

“I think the judge is embarrassed, and certainly contrite, about his outburst," Canterbury said, "and I think he has rightfully recused himself.”  – So,  all that the people of West Virginia get for their pain and suffering at the hands of an openly abusive, vindictive, unjust Judge Watkins is some verbiage that he feels…  “contrite.” Apparently, he will say anything to hold on to the cushy job.

According to the state Code of Judicial Conduct, “A judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity.

Watkins, who has been sitting on the bench  since 2002,  told reporters he did not think his conduct warranted any punishment, and that in fact some attorneys allegedly told him that he is “too soft.” Interestingly, there is a counter-attack, a smear campaign, seemingly coordinated from certain political quarters in Putnam county, against the reporters who covered Judge Watkins’ escapades, especially so – the publisher of PutnamLIVE, Mark Hallburn and reporter Lawrence Smith of West Virginia Record. You may send letters of support to News@PutnamLIVE.com.

Systemic Abuse of Power: Watkins’ Other Victims 

It must be noted that the theme of  “a damn lie” seems to be Watkins’ favorite outburst, as he recently sent to jail with these same words another 62-year-old man,  Robert Harper, Sr., a man with an amputated leg and many health problems. The "hearing" was over some disputed child support that Harper claims was paid… for his 40-year-old son. .Judge admitted in writing that he was aware of a “myriad of health problems” Harper had;  yet, he sent the 62-year-old to jail in absence of his lawyer, in violation of the U.S. and West Virginia Constitutions. Article 3-10 (Safeguards for life, liberty and property) of West Virginia Constitution states:  "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, and the judgment of his peers." Apparently, nobody in the West Virginia Bar Association cared that the  62-year-old invalid in poor health was incarcerated unlawfully and languished in jail for nearly a month!

Judge Watkins, after his usual screaming theatrics, orders the bailiff: "Take his ass into custody. I'm tired of him. You call up your lawyer and find out how to get your butt out, and that's to sign over the money. You got me?"  Then Harper is escorted out of the courtroom, hobbling on crutches.

Harper says he contracted tuberculosis while jailed. We do not need to study about Soviet Gulag of 1937  when our American Gulag far exceeds the Soviets' puny numbers, and our Judges  –  such as Judge Watkins   –  would give the scummiest of the Soviet show trial judges a run for their money! Harper, jailed illegally in the first place, has been released from custody. He commented about Judge Watkins: “He has to go. He has no business on bench.” 

Judge Watkins was also named as a co-defendant in a writ of prohibition filed by Terry K. Hamm. In his writ filed Jan. 17, 2012 in Putnam Circuit Court, Hamm alleges Watkins overstepped his bounds when he, first, ordered him detained after being late for a hearing, then ordering the $11,000 Hamm's father posted as bond forfeited without a hearing.

 Iraq War Veteran: “Watkins Needs To Be Gone!” (Letter to the Editor) 

I was deployed to Iraq in 2007-2008.

Like many military marriages, my wife left me, while I was deployed, and I had to do my divorce hearing  over the phone.  Of course, (William "Chip") Watkins was the judge. I called from Iraq … I could hear him and everyone in the court very clearly.

He had placed me on speaker phone and before I could even say anything, he screamed that he could not hear me and he hung up the phone.  I called back twice, he was very rude and kept screaming that he could not hear me, my ex wife even told me that she could hear me very clearly from where she was sitting, approximately 20 feet from Watkins and his phone.

That man is a disgrace to the Putnam County Judicial System and a disgrace to ALL people that represent themselves as a Judge.  This man needs to be removed from the bench… “
To which we say, Amen!
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  1. a couple of more screaming judges on this page.


  2. If family courts in other states had cameras we would see hundreds more deranged judges like this Watkins.

  3. Those west Virginia people need to show this judge the door and give him a good shove on the arse

  4. Judges like this guy need to be removed from the bench and jailed for assault ... verbally abusive behavior can be prosecuted as assault ... and I find it difficult for anyone to interpret this judge as anything less than abusive.