The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled this week to suspend Kanawha County Magistrate Jack Pauley for 45 days without pay.
Per the recommendation of the Judicial Investigation Commission, Pauley’s suspension will begin Saturday, and he will have to pay $7,159.03 for the cost of the investigation into his actions in two separate cases in which the defendants died.
The court also censured Pauley for his violations of the Judicial Code of Conduct, which were said to have lead to the deaths of the two defendants, according to the Supreme Court’s order from Jan. 3.
During a hearing before the Judicial Investigation Commission in November, Pauley said he was sorry for the mistakes he made that investigators linked to the deaths of Joshua Lee Miles and Housein Bikir Keaton, both of Cross Lanes.
Pauley accepted the charges during the November hearing, saying he was trying to keep cases moving in the magistrate court system.
“In Kanawha County, we’ll have over 14,000 misdemeanors in a year,” Pauley said during the hearing. “We’ll have 3,500, 4,000 felonies, and it’s just to keep the system moving to accomplish something. ... It’s the rule, and I was wrong. I was asked to do it. I did it.”
It was unclear Friday whether any personnel support would be provided to Kanawha County Magistrate Court during Pauley’s absence.
Jennifer Bundy, public information officer for the Supreme Court, directed questions about Pauley’s absence to Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom, who is chief judge of Kanawha County’s judicial circuit and would be responsible for making that determination.
Bloom couldn’t be reached for comment Friday evening.
Pauley was charged with signing a domestic violence protection order against 36-year-old Keaton, even though it didn’t include all of the required information, on Aug. 25, 2016.
The commission also charged him with leaving his night shift early that evening, which meant he didn’t sign an arrest warrant for Keaton.
Without the warrant, Keaton wasn’t arrested, and he was found dead of a gunshot wound the morning of Aug. 26, 2016.
Pauley also was charged with improperly taking over Miles’ case, which was assigned to former Magistrate Julie Yeager.
While the presiding magistrate was out of the office for medical reasons, Pauley signed an order to allow Miles to be released from jail on April 12, 2017.
Because of an error in faxing the order to South Central Regional Jail, 36-year-old Miles wasn’t released, and he was found dead in his jail cell on April 13, 2017 of an apparent suicide.
Pauley first was elected as a magistrate in 1992. His attorney, William Forbes, said in November Pauley never “caught a charge” and had never been hit with any rules violation prior to these charges.