EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSFOUTY PAY HEARING
from Eyewitness News Online
Magistrate Fouty's Lawyer Says Suspension Without Pay Is Too Severe
Reported by: Kallie Cart
Web Producer: Mamie Buoy
Reported: Jun. 6, 2012 5:00 PM EDT
Updated: Jun. 6, 2012 5:35 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A Kanawha County Magistrate, facing numerous ethics violations, is asking the Supreme Court to reverse it's decision to suspend her without pay.
In April, Carol Fouty was suspended from the bench without pay, pending the outcome of a judicial hearing. That hearing isn't scheduled until August. On Wednesday, Fouty's attorney asked the Supreme Court to revise its decision and at the very least, reinstate her pay.
"What makes it worse, it is an election year. So the court, by keeping her off of work, could in essence be affecting her income for four more years," Fouty's attorney Michael DelGiudice says.
DelGiudice says the suspension is costing the magistrate $5,000 in pay a month.
"Financial hardship is not a reason to change the circumstances," Teresa Tarr with the Judicial Investigation Commission argued before the court. The commission calls the ethics charges against Fouty, "serious."
Fouty is facing five counts, many of which center around alleged improper conduct and business dealings with defendants who have appeared before her in the courtroom. Fouty also admitted to dismissing a drug citation for a woman who later became her maid.
"A magistrate is supposed to be neutral and detached and if you're having people who appear in front of you on criminal cases, come to work for you at your house, it tends to take you out of that neutral and detached realm," Tarr says.
Except for the drug citation involving her maid, Fouty disputes all the other charges.
"She is trying to help somebody who is downtrodden, it may be an appearance of impropriety, but is that reason to give somebody a death sentence? That's what we're doing here," DelGiudice says.
But the Judicial Investigation Commission argues Fouty has a record of similar troubles.
"If you look at past conduct, there's an indication that it could maybe happen again," Tarr says.
The justices are expected to rule on the magistrate's suspension within the next two weeks.
The actual ethics hearing is scheduled for August 8. After the hearing, the board will then hand down it's recommendations. And then the recommendations are given to the Supreme Court to take action.
If the court eventually rules in Fouty's favor, she could receive back pay.
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