- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Supreme Court on Thursday suspended a judge without pay through December 2016 for having an inappropriate sexual affair.

Justice Menis Ketchum wrote that Randolph County Circuit Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong demeaned her office, impaired the judiciary’s integrity and undermined public confidence.

Wilfong had a two-year affair with William Travis Carter, then director of the North Central Community Corrections program in Elkins. He and his subordinates appeared in front of Wilfong in criminal cases on behalf of the prosecuting attorney.

“Judge Wilfong demonstrated, over a two-year period, a fundamental lack of candor, judgment, integrity, and fairness,” Ketchum wrote.

In April, Wilfong admitted to the relationship while responding to a formal statement of charges in the 20th Judicial Circuit. The affair included sexually explicit emails, text messages, instant messages and nude photographs.

“She only admitted to the relationship when she learned that other lawyers were contemplating filing complaints against her with the Judicial Investigation Commission,” Ketchum wrote.

In August, the state Judicial Hearing Board recommended a censure, three-year suspension without pay, $20,000 fine and court costs payments. After a September appeal, Wilfong filed an Oct. 14 brief asking for mercy, arguing she should only endure a public reprimand.

A special disciplinary counsel went further, recommending on Oct. 3 that Wilfong should be indefinitely suspended from office.

In May, Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Davis removed Wilfong from hearing cases involving the county prosecutor’s office.

Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling limits Wilfong’s suspension until her term ends Dec. 31, 2016. It eliminates fines and requires paying $8,000 in prosecuting costs.

Justice Allen Loughry, who concurred and dissented on different points, wrote the $20,000 fine should have been imposed.

Ketchum wrote that “justice must be mixed with a little mercy.”

Wilfong can’t ethically take another job while she’s a suspended judge, and even if she quits she’ll probably be temporarily without work, Ketchum wrote.

Ketchum also factored in the public scrutiny of her behavior.

“And, of course, her stunningly inappropriate conduct has been revealed to the public, to her obvious embarrassment,” Ketchum wrote.

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