GALLIVANTS FERRY, S.C. -- Unfortunately, Putnam County Family Law Judge William M. "Chip" Watkins is not the only bad judge in the West Virginia Family Law system.

There are countless victims of bad judges, the broken system, and The West Virginia Supreme Court and Mountain State legislators who allow this abuse and destruction of West Virginia families -- including innocent children -- to continue while failing to take necessary corrective action.

I am one of several people that Watkins has been charged with wrongdoing in my divorce case as well as his verbal attack of me in a letter when I was investigating (as a journalist) his "Not in good standing" report in a letter from his homeowner's association. Watkins failed to recuse himself from our divorce -- even after being informed the he represented my wife prior to our marriage. When I complained about his rude staff, Watkins referred to me, in a letter, as "the south end of a north-bound facing horse."

The West Virginia Judicial Investigative Commission took too many months before they charged him. Bless the commissioner's hearts. Having everything in writing-with Watkins' signature-couldn't motivate them to move quickly against "his honor."

Amazingly, Chief Justice Menis E. Ketchum II and Justices Brent Benjamin and Thomas McHugh voted not to suspend Watkins for his multiple instances of misconduct. For this and other reasons, all of the Justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court should be immediately removed from their seats on the bench of the court that has become the butt of jokes worldwide.

Each case in the West Virginia Family Court system is unique. Unfortunately, what is not unique is that many parents have been abused, as have innocent children, by this system while the "ladies and gentlemen" who pretend to be governors, judges, and legislators allow the abuse to continue.

In my case, despite bringing home respectable income ($50,000 in 2011 and $38,000 in 2011) and remaining faithful and loyal and committed to my wife, marriage and child, my wife chose to break her vows by filing for divorce. In a February hearing, Judge Michael J. Kelly allowed false allegations to be leveled against me by her lawyer, Henry Glass. (Who later admitted they were false). I was ordered out of the home and given less than 30-percent parenting time, secondary custody, and ordered to pay child support.

Remember, the allegations were admittedly false and SHE is the one who sought the divorce.

In June, when I exercised my First Amendment Right to Redress my Government For Grievances, and filed a motion with Ketchum about Kelly's misconduct and a motion to see my son for Father's Day, Ketchum responded by violating federal constitutional law with an Administrative Order telling me to not contact the West Virginia Supreme Court.

In the months since, despite being informed BY GLASS that the allegations were false, Kelly refused to reverse his rulings, and in an August order had the audacity to use the fact that I used my First Amendment right to Redress My Government for Grievances complained about him (to Ketchum) as his reason for retaliating against me while upholding his prior rulings. For this, Kelly should be removed from the bench and thrown into federal prison in a cell with Ketchum.

Judge Kelly also wrongfully refuses to allow my son to visit the beach, zoos and other out-of-state locations until the divorce is final. This has wrongfully deprived my son of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" as well as important educational opportunities.

In Kelly's warped world, West Virginia's border is a wall. If he wants to act this way, Kelly should move to a country that has a great wall on its border: China. Kelly's practices of injustice should not be allowed in The United States where men and women have died to protect our cherished freedoms. His misconduct is a slap in their heroic faces.

In addition, Kelly wrongfully restricted my son to visit my dying mother in California despite multiple motions and documents proving her terminal illness. No judge should have the right to restrict a non-abusive grandparent from seeing her grandchild -- especially when she is dying. However, Kelly thinks he is above the statutory laws, common-decency laws, and the laws of common sense -- so he refused to allow the visit.

My mother died Aug. 5 without being allowed to see her grandson. I do not know how the West Virginia Legislature and Supreme Court will order Kelly to revive my mother and pay for my son to visit her, but their moral and ethical obligation to do so is painfully obvious.

Any judge that prevents a dying grandmother a visit with her grandchild needs a comprehensive mental exam and follow-up treatments. Ditto for the supervising judges, justices, governor, and legislators. Highland can help -- or maybe they are too far gone!

Allowing Kelly to get away with his wrongful orders is the West Virginia Supreme Court's wrongful ban on the appeal of "temporary" orders. This ban is obviously unconstitutional because it eliminates the important "checks and balances" placed in our United States Constitution to prevent judges like Kelly from abusing their power and becoming "out-of-control dictators."

This rule, along with the injustices that implemented it and allowed it, must be tossed out immediately. Though they are called temporary orders, in many cases, their effects are permanent.

How will I get back Father's Day 2012? How will my son see his grandmother? How will he go to the beach and zoos in the spring and summer breaks of 2012? How will I get back the treasured moments that I have lost with my son -- so far -- at the hands of Kelly and the "ladies and gentlemen" of the Legislature and Supreme Court that wrongfully allowed Kelly to steal them from us?

Kelly's deserved life prison sentence will never bring those back. Hell does not burn hot enough for Kelly and those that allow him to get away with his of the rights of families!

Currently, some parents go bankrupt or are permanently financially damaged while fighting for their children It's a case where only the lawyers and government-funded judges and public officials win. This is wrong on many levels!

What West Virginia needs is a housecleaning of the court system. All five West Virginia Supreme Court Justices, Kelly and Watkins need to leave the bench.

In addition, the ineffective and unacceptably slow West Virginia Judicial Investigative Commission must be replaced with a Civilian Review Board that meets weekly. This will stop the current abusive practices that allow complaints to wait weeks and months to be heard.

Every day the courts hold people accountable for their bad decisions. The current JIC just covers the backsides of bad judges at the expense of taxpayers. It's time for a civilian JIC to hold the judges accountable for their screw-ups in a timely manner.

Lawyers who lie in court must be immediately disbarred, fined at least $1 million (to be paid to the victim) and thrown in prison for life.

Child custody and parenting decisions must be made by juries (who are parents) -- not by single judges -- and be subject to immediate appeal. Our children are too important to have such decisions made by one person.

If a spouse is ordered out of a marital home, an immediate financial settlement must be provided -- not the current "you're on your own" system.

Equal, joint custody must be the case -- except in cases of child abuse.

Reporters must be allowed in family courtrooms to avoid the current abuse by judges-including Kelly and Watkins. Such access is allowed in many other states.

Courtroom videos must be handed to petitioners and respondents -- at no charge -- when they walk out of each hearing. Cameras must be pointed at each subject throughout the hearing to prevent editing of the audio. (Watkins has been accused of editing his courtroom videos by Tammy Jo Lambert, who he called a "stupid woman!")

Judges that scream at people in court should be immediately removed from the bench and tossed in prison for a minimum of five years, fined-and never be allowed to hold public office again.

All elected officials -- including judges -- must have only two-year terms with a consecutive limit of eight years. The current eight- and 12-year terms for judges allow them to abuse their power and be insulated from the voters.

All public officials, appointed, elected, and hired, must be subject to recall. They must answer to the people every day -- not just in election years. Obviously such officials will whine about this. Tough! West Virginians deserve the best. They aren't getting the best from the broken court system.

The above changes are radical. They are comprehensive. And they are necessary to restore credibility and integrity to the West Virginia court system on every level. (Assuming credibility and integrity ever existed!)

Or we can continue to allow children and families to be abused by the clowns pretending to be courtroom judges while local, national and global media continue to show the world how bad the West Virginia court system is-and the world laughs at The Mountain State.

Finally, it needs to be said that in a world where fathers run from their children, fail to pay child support, and allow that child to be a burden to society, I love my son and want to spend every day with him, teaching him to be moral, ethical, love God, use integrity, get an education, and do the right thing for everyone. (Translation: With those great qualities he would NEVER be qualified to be a family law judge or Supreme Court Justice in West Virginia.) Instead of rewarding me for trying to be a great father to my son, the legal system in The Mountain State is punishing me. Shame on all of them!

Mark Halburn
Galivants Ferry, SC

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