On Monday, March 18, 2024, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia issued a disciplinary decision regarding allegations of judicial misconduct against Judge Deanna R. Rock, a family court judge from the 23rd Family Court Circuit.

The case stemmed from statements Judge Rock made during a sworn statement related to a letter written by Family Court Judge Glen Stotler concerning complaints against the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. Judge Stotler’s letter expressed grievances about the handling of disciplinary cases against judges. Records obtained from Judge Rock’s court-issued computer showed she had communicated with Judge Stotler’s assistant about the letter before it was sent.

During her sworn statement, Judge Rock denied seeing the letter or discussing it with Judge Stotler prior to receiving it. She also denied being involved in its drafting or editing. However, the computer records indicated she had received a draft of the letter beforehand and provided feedback and suggestions. Judge Rock later acknowledged her memory was “refreshed” by the records, and she wanted to correct inaccurate statements.

The West Virginia Judicial Hearing Board considered eight charges of judicial misconduct against Judge Rock related to her statements. They found clear and convincing evidence she violated the Code of Judicial Conduct by falsely denying seeing the letter previously and denying any association with it. However, the Board did not find sufficient evidence for the other six charges. As a sanction, the Board recommended Judge Rock be reprimanded and required to pay costs associated with the proceedings.

Both Judge Rock and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel objected to parts of the Board’s decision. Judge Rock argued she should be exonerated of all charges, saying her inaccurate statements were unintentional due to faulty memory. Disciplinary Counsel pushed for additional charges to be proven and requested harsher penalties like censure, a fine, and suspension from the bench.

After independently reviewing the record, the Supreme Court of Appeals agreed with most of the Board’s findings but also determined one additional charge was proven regarding promoting public confidence in the judiciary. Nevertheless, the Court adopted the Board’s recommended sanction of a reprimand and costs.

The court stated:

“In consideration of the nature and underlying circumstances of the violations found herein, we find the Board’s recommended sanction of reprimand and payment of costs to be adequate to address respondent’s misconduct.”

Judge Rock successfully secured her position through a general election held on May 10, 2016.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.