On Wednesday, April 26, 2023, the West Virginia Record reported that a motion by the 23rd District Family Court Judge Glen R. Stotler, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since 1973, requesting the Court that his hearing be conducted near his home in the Eastern Panhandle due to medical reasons was denied by the state Judicial Hearing Board.

Jack Alsop, the Board Presiding Judge, denied the motion filed by Stotler who has been on medical leave for six months due to pressure sores, a condition Stotler says to be common with paraplegics.

In his motion filed on April 5, Judge Stotler explained that his pressure sores had been severe enough to prevent him from performing his day-to-day duties as a judge. He has been largely confined to his home and has required in-home health caregivers due to his medical condition, including regular doctor’s visits and one surgery. As a result, he requested that the July 24 hearing be relocated from Judge Joanna Tabit’s courtroom in Charleston to either Berkeley Springs in Morgan County or another location in the Eastern Panhandle that is closer to his home.

In response to the denial of his request to relocate the hearing, Stotler’s attorney and state Senator Charles S. Trump IV cited Rule 4.1 of the West Virginia Rules of Judicial Disciplinary Procedure, which states that the Board may hold hearings at locations that best serve the public interest, provided they do not conflict with the interests of the complainant and the respondent.

Stotler asserted that the holding of the hearing in Charleston is “inconsistent with his interests as the respondent.”

According to Stotler’s motion, there is a precedent for the hearing to be conducted at a location other than Charleston such as Morgantown for the case of Family Court Judge Deanna Rock and Martinsburg for the case of Circuit Judge Carter Williams. However, Stotler noted that none of the parties had a disability that required accommodations similar to what he needed.

The case against Stotler and another family court judge, Deanna Rock, relates to allegations that they violated the Code of Judicial Conduct by sending a letter to the state Supreme Court and other officials requesting an investigation into the conduct of Judicial Disciplinary Counsel regarding an investigation into the conduct of another family court judge, Louise Goldston. Goldston had been recommended for censure and a fine by Judicial Disciplinary Counsel Teresa Tarr and Deputy JDC Brian Lanham following an incident in which she stopped a court hearing and ordered the parties to meet at the home of a Raleigh County man involved in a post-divorce contempt proceeding.

Stotler’s letter to then-Supreme Court Chief Justice Evan Jenkins and other officials criticized Tarr and Lanham, stating that the Supreme Court should fire the prosecutors from the state’s Judicial Disciplinary Counsel for their poor treatment of Goldston. Stotler accused the prosecutors of using intimidation and deception to force Goldston into making agreements during questioning by state officials. The state Office of Disciplinary Counsel later found those claims to be untrue.

Matthew Gibson reported Goldston to the Judicial Investigation Commission (JIC) for violating the state Code of Judicial Conduct after she led a warrantless search of his home, threatened to arrest him for recording the incident, and had a bailiff seize his phone. In March 2021, Gibson filed a federal lawsuit against Goldston, the Raleigh County Commission, and three sheriff’s deputies related to the incident.

Meanwhile, the JIC had charged Goldston with violating at least seven rules in the Code of Judicial Conduct after admitting she had visited litigants’ homes to check on the disputed property. Goldston, who had never been disciplined before, sought judicial immunity and filed to dismiss Gibson’s claims in federal court. However, the court denied her immunity and she appealed to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The outcome of the appeal will determine whether there will be a trial in the Gibson matter to seek monetary damages.

 

Source: West Virginia Record