The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals released documents Friday morning showing Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong objected to being removed from presiding over cases heard by the prosecuting attorney's office.
The high court granted a petition by Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker late Thursday disqualifying Judge Wilfong from hearing cases involving his office.
In the order, Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis writes, "The Honorable Jaymie Godwin Wilfong, Judge of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, has advised the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of a motion filed for her disqualification from presiding over any and all cases prosecuted or otherwise handled by the Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Judge Wilfong further advised the Chief Justice that she does not wish to be disqualified from said cases."
The filing also state that Senior Status Judges Thomas W. Steptoe Jr. and Thomas H. Keadle are being recalled to active service to handle the caseload. Steptoe is presiding over today's docket.
Steptoe presided over the 23rd Judicial Circuit, serving Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties. He retired from the bench in 2009. Keadle presided over the 26th Judicial Circuit, serving Lewis and Upshur counties. He joined the court in 1985 and retired Jan. 31, 2013.
In granting Parker's motion, Chief Justice Davis cited the integrity of the court system.
"Upon review of said motion, and in accordance with Trial Court Rule 17.01(c), the Chief Justice has determined that the matters set forth therein are sufficient to warrant such disqualification to avoid even an appearance of impropriety," Davis wrote.
"It is, therefore, ordered, that the Honorable Thomas W. Steptoe Jr. and the Honorable Thomas H. Keadle, Senior Status Judges, be, and they hereby are, recalled for temporary assignment to the Circuit Court of Randolph County in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit under the provisions of Article VIII:3 and 8 of the Constitution of West Virginia and W.Va. Code 51-9-10 for the purpose of presiding over any and all cases prosecuted or otherwise handled by the Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, with said assignment to continue until the Chief Justice deems the assignment is no longer needed," Davis ordered.
Attorney Heather Weese already has filed a similar motion to Parker's, and several other local attorneys are expected to do the same today.