Magistrate Suspended Following Fishing Encounter

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia magistrate has been suspended for 90 days for violating codes of judicial conduct during a confrontation with Division of Natural Resources officers after he went fishing.

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday increased the suspension recommended by a judicial hearing board against Wayne County Magistrate David E. Ferguson. The board had recommended a 30-day suspension without pay and a $2,000 fine.

The court said the harsher suspension was justified due to Ferguson’s “flagrant attempt to intimidate” law enforcement officers.

The court said Ferguson was fishing with his father in February 2017 at East Lynn Lake, which had been restocked with trout that day.

DNR Cpl. Larry Harvey said he and another officer saw Ferguson catch the daily limit of six trout, then caught two more, giving one to his father and one to another man.

When officers approached Ferguson, he began pacing and screaming.

Ferguson was cited for exceeding the fish limit. He paid a small fine, plus court costs.

Ferguson was first elected to Wayne County Magistrate Court in 2016.

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