Kanawha County Magistrate Suspended Without Pay for Code of Conduct Violations

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has ordered a 45-day suspension without pay for a Kanawha County magistrate charged for multiple code of conduct violations.

Jack Pauley, a magistrate for 26 years, was found in violation of the Judicial Code of Conduct, including the approval of a domestic violence petition without knowing details of the case in August 2016.

Pauley’s punishment includes a 45-day suspension without pay, a separate public censure for each alleged violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct as well as paying for the cost of the investigation and proceedings.

On Dec. 4, the Judicial Disciplinary Counsel filed consent to the recommended suspension made by the Judicial Hearing Board on Nov. 27. The order was entered Wednesday.

The first day of Pauley’s suspension starts Saturday, Jan. 6.

Pauley is accused of leaving his post an hour early without informing anyone on Aug. 25, 2016, when a Charleston police officer needed to get an arrest warrant signed. Because of his accused absence, the officer was unable to get or execute the arrest warrant on a man who was wanted on a domestic assault charge. The next morning police said the man was shot and killed on his porch on Charleston’s West Side.

At the time, Charleston police said they believed Keaton was targeted. This shooting was not mentioned in the formal complaint against Pauley.

A third charge against Pauley stems from an incident beginning in July 2016, according to a formal complaint.

The complaint said on July 27, 2016, Joshua Miles was arrested and charged with violating a domestic violence protective order, obstructing an officer and battery on a police officer. Miles’ case was assigned to Magistrate Julie Yeager.

On March 8, 2017, Miles’ probation was revoked after Yeager learned he had failed a drug test and did not complete the day report program he had been assigned to in July.

On April 5, Yeager scheduled a status hearing for Miles on April 24. The following day, a motion was made to withdraw the revocation of Miles’ probation, the complaint said.

According to the complaint, Yeager called in sick on April 12 when an assistant prosecuting attorney and an assistant public defender asked to have Miles’ file brought to day court. Pauley, who was on duty that day, “listened to a brief request by the state and defendant’s attorney on the states’ motion and granted the motion and signed a jail release order for Miles, despite the fact that the case belonged the Magistrate Yeager,” according to the complaint.

When asked by the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission why he agreed to hold the hearing and sign Miles’ release, Pauley said, “I do it all the time. If I didn’t do it, we wouldn’t get anything done,” the release said.

Just days after Miles’ release was granted, he was found unresponsive in his cell in South Central Regional Jail and pronounced dead at the scene of an apparent suicide. Miles’ death was not mentioned in the formal complaint.

Lawrence Messina of the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety said in an email that it appeared the April 12 fax granting Miles’ release was “unsuccessfully sent.”

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