UPDATE: Ethics Charges Filed Against Kanawha Co. Magistrate

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

Judge Harshbarger Statement of Charges

UPDATE 4/23/13 @ 5 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Ethics charges have been filed against Kanawha County Magistrate Ward Harshbarger, after allegations that he did not follow procedures when reviewing a domestic violence petition.

The charges allege that Harshbarger did not grant a domestic violence petition to Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants' ex-wife in late February.

Steve Canterbury, the administrative director for the State Supreme Court, told WSAZ.com that he filed what's called an "extraordinary complaint" against Harshbarger, believing he had taken part in serious violations of the code of judicial conduct.

According to the complaint, Harshbarger claimed he decided to deny the petition before he realized it was against the prosecutor, saying the alleged abuse was "a form of parental correcting." Then, when he found out it was against Prosecutor Plants, he said, "I'm not going to grant this."

The next day, a family court judge granted the DVP.

Harshbarger is also facing a second charge, accused of discussing the DVP with police officers who were not involved in the case. DVPs are supposed to remain confidential.

WSAZ.com reached out to Harshbarger Tuesday night and again on Wednesday, but his office said there would be no comment.

The judicial hearing board is investigating and a hearing is set for May 5.

Harshbarger has faced judicial discipline twice in the past.

This time, Harshbarger could face a number of sanctions, including suspension without pay, a fine or involuntary retirement.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



ORIGINAL STORY 4/22/14 @ 8:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Ethics charges have been filed against Kanawha County Magistrate Ward Harshbarger, State Supreme Court Administrator Steve Canterbury told WSAZ.com on Tuesday.

The charges follows allegations that Harshbarger denied Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants' ex-wife a domestic violence petition.

Canterbury said Harshbarger had taken part in serious violations of the judicial code of conduct.

According to Canterbury, when Plants' ex-wife tried to file the petition through Harshbarger, he said she "shouldn't bother to give it to him."

A family court judge granted it the next day.

The complaint against Harshbarger, which was initiated in February, now goes to the judicial hearing board.

Plants' ex-wife requested the petition after her son had a large bruise on his leg. She felt he went too far when disciplining their son.

WSAZ.com reached out to Harshbarger Tuesday night but was unable to contact him.


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