On February 1, 2023, Institute for Justice reported that West Virginia Family Court Judge Louise Goldston stepped down from the bench in the midst of ongoing impeachment proceedings following her warrantless search of Matt Gibson in relation to a marital property proceeding concerning Gibson and his ex-wife.

According to court filings, the search that led to this disciplinary matter transpired on March 4, 2020, during a post-divorce contempt hearing, when the ex-wife claimed that her former husband, Gibson, had damaged items of property and had refused to turn over items of sentimental value that she was entitled to receive. Goldston ordered everyone in the courtroom to go to Gibson’s home and conducted a warrantless search party through the home, notwithstanding Gibson’s protest on the basis that Goldston does not have a warrant. However, Goldston, together with her bailiff, the ex-wife, and her counsel, proceeded with entering Gibson’s house, and personally supervised the search and recovery of items. Goldston also ordered Gibson’s ex-wife to take all the things she believed were hers and also threatened to arrest Gibson and her girlfriend for recording their conversation.

Goldston was ultimately disciplined by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals with a public censure and a fine of $1,000 on November 18, 2021, for violations of Rules 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.2, 2.4(A), 2.4(B), and 2.5 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which state:

A judge shall comply with the law, including the West Virginia Code of Judicial Conduct.

A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

A judge shall not abuse the prestige of judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or others, or allow others to do so.

A judge shall uphold and apply the law, and shall perform all duties of judicial office fairly and impartially.

A judge shall not be swayed by public clamor or fear of criticism.

A judge shall not permit family, social, political, financial, or other interests or relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct or judgment.

A judge shall perform judicial and administrative duties, competently and diligently . . . [and] shall cooperate with other judges and court officials in the administration of court business.

According to the Injustice for Justice report, Gibson brought a federal lawsuit against Goldston for violating his rights. Goldston argued that she should be entitled to judicial immunity, but the district court held that no judicial immunity is afforded to judges that “barge into people’s homes without warrants.

Unsatisfied with the district court ruling, Goldston is now appealing the decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Gibson is teaming up with the Institute for Justice to defend the district court’s decision.

Regarding Goldston’s resignation from the bench, Gibson said that he is happy that the corrupt judge is stepping down so “she can’t violate other people’s rights like she did to me.” “But judges aren’t above the law. My case will move forward to ensure that what happened to me does not happen again.”, added Gibson.

John Bryan, Gibson’s attorney in a statement said, “My client is happy with the opinion and thanks Judicial Disciplinary Counsel for their hard work and integrity in protecting his rights and holding judicial official accountable.”

Prior to her resignation, Judge Louise Goldston served as a family court judge since 1994, and she presided over cases in Raleigh, Summers, and Wyoming counties. Her former courtroom is located at 222 Main Street Beckley, WV 25801, and can be reached at 304-256-6749.

Source: Institute for Justice

Full story here.