Journalist Smith Is Starting A Judicial Information Database


Will Be Tracking Complaints Against Jurists

In an effort to bring public exposure to the misconduct in West Virginia’s courts, Hurricane freelance legal journalist Lawrence J. Smith is starting a database to track judicial complaints. To fund the work, Smith has set up a page.

“The purpose of this campaign to raise funds to create a crowd-sourced database with critical information about judicial candidates,” says Smith. “Information on the database will include, among other things, campaign finance reports,  legal malpractice suits, liens and judgments, writs of prohibition/mandamus and, most importantly, disciplinary complaints.”

Smith is starting the database in reaction to the protection racket run by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals where Smith says, ” A unanimous opinion rendered in January 2015 declared the people couldn’t handle the truth about being made aware of just the numbers of complaints filed against a judicial officer is the impetus for this database. Information collected on it  will not just provide mere statistical data, but also the details of the complaint, and the decision rendered by the Judicial Investigation Commission.”

The Judicial Investigation Commission has earned the reputation of being a “rubber-stamp” for judicial misconduct by protecting bad judges from discipline, including cases where the evidence is clear. Two of those judges, Michael J. Kelly and Scot A. Lawrence have presided over Putnam County cases. Both have since resigned after exposed their repeated wrongdoing – most recently Magistrate Lawrence.

In 2013, Putnam County Family Court Judge William M. “Chip” Watkins, III, retired after exposed his wrongdoing and he was suspended through the remainder of his term by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. commends Smith in his continued efforts to clean up West Virginia’s courts.