It has been years since a magistrate has been admonished by the Judiciary Commission. Probably the last time was that of Doug Jett who showed up for a hearing drunker than a skunk.
But there has been another disciplining of a magistrate only this time is has to do with a failure to do her job. (code for failure to obey the rule of law.) The complaint below lays out the facts and Magistrate Cynthia Broce Kelly's reponse to it.
It has resulted in an admonishment which is the lowest level of discipline available to the Commission short of a fine or removal from office. A second occurrence could be a fine or removal from office.
In this case Magistrate Kelly was on duty and at the courthouse the night that Steve McNally was arrested. She declined to arraign him and allowed him to be transported to Tygart's Valley Regional jail.
A process which could have taken only a few minutes turned into an overnight stay in jail something that had never happened to McNally in his life. It cost him $930 bond which he may not have had to pay had the arraignment occurred during the day. It was a procedure that has been utilized by Sheriff David Jonese on three occasions. We call it punishment by arrest. Jonese will send his cops out to make an arrest at night when the courthouse is closed.
In this case, Jonese was angry with three people who exercise their freedom of speech rights via blogs namely the Pocahontas Commentator blog. Norman Alderman was arrested late at night and his computers were seized in response to a complaint of internet stalking. Jerry Heinneman was arrested late at night and taken straight to TVRJ in regard to a warrant. Steve McNally was arrested around 7:00 in the evening and actually taken to the courthouse where Cynthia Broce Kelly laughed when she declined to arraign him.
Now that she has been admonished, we can fully expect the late night arrests to end. Citizens have a right to be arraigned when they are arrested. The sheriff can no longer use his arrest time as a means of insuring that a citizen serves at least on night in jail. Thanks to the Judicial Commission we no longer have to worry about the midnight raids. We imagine that Deputy McCoy will be upset about this limitation but that is tough.
Here's the admonishment: