On Friday, October 13, 2023, the Judicial Investigation Commission of West Virginia publicly admonished former Magistrate of Pleasants County John Paul Riggs for violating the Code of Judicial Conduct.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of John Paul Riggs,” with case no. 136-2022.

The charges cited Code of Judicial Conduct Rules 1.1, 1.2, and 3.1(a)(b)(c).

Riggs was appointed as a magistrate in Pleasants County in 2021 and served until October 2, 2023, when he officially resigned. He was arrested and charged on December 7, 2022, for the misdemeanor offense of Aggravated Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI), and was later released on a $1,000.00 personal recognizance bond.

According to the filing, Riggs violated the Code of Judicial Conduct by engaging in extrajudicial activities that interfered with the proper performance of his judicial duties, participating in activities that would lead to frequent disqualification of the judge, and participating in activities that would appear to a reasonable person to undermine the judge’s independence, integrity, or impartiality.

The Commission found that Riggs had fully cooperated with Judicial Disciplinary Counsel in the investigation of the ethics complaint, had readily admitted his wrongdoing, had sought treatment with the West Virginia Judicial and Lawyer Assistance Program (WVJLAP), and had resigned from his position of his own free will. However, the Commission found that the violations were serious enough to warrant a public admonishment.

The Commission noted that the Code of Judicial Conduct regulates both professional and personal conduct and that a judge must be aware of the impact of their conduct on the public’s perception of the judiciary. The Commission stated that a judge must be impartial and maintain the appearance of impartiality and that any impropriety that undermines the integrity of the judiciary must be addressed.

The Disposition states:

“Therefore, it is the decision of the Judicial Investigation Commission that John Paul Riggs, former Magistrate of Pleasants County, be disciplined by this Admonishment. Accordingly, the Judicial Investigation Commission hereby publicly admonishes former Magistrate Riggs for his conduct as fully set forth in the matters asserted herein.”

Paul Riggs was a former Magistrate of Pleasants County in West Virginia. His info can be found on ballotpedia.org.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.