CHARLESTON – The state Supreme Court has suspended Kanawha Magistrate Carol Fouty without pay and has directed the Judicial Disciplinary Counsel to file formal charges against her because of allegations that she dismissed causes in exchange for defendants doing favors for her.
An investigation began after Fouty's housekeeper, Melea Dawn Fisher, was arrested in on Feb. 27 for driving under the influence while driving Fouty's car. Prior to the incident, Fouty had dismissed a drug charge against the woman and then hired her as her maid.
Fouty also released a man on a personal recognizance bond after the police had charged him with driving while under the influence of drugs. After he was released by Fouty, the man returned to his car and was arrested by police a second time.
The order was entered April 9 in the Supreme Court Clerk's Office and said that Judicial Disciplinary Counsel Theresa Tarr presented a report on a complaint against Fouty filed by Supreme Court Administrative Director Steve Canterbury.
"The Court is of the opinion that there is probable cause to believe the respondent has engaged or is currently engaged in a serious violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct," the order states. "In addition, the Court notes that the respondent received a written admonishment in December 2011 for violating Canon 1A, 2A, 2B, 2B, 3B(1), and (2), and 3E(1)(a) of the Code of Judicial Conduct. (Judicial Investigation Commission Complaint No. 12-2010.)"
The Judicial Disciplinary Counsel filed formal charges April 10 against Fouty. The formal charges also mention matters with a man who needed an attorney that Fouty agreed to help him with if he would fix the concrete at her home and another matter with a man that did yard work for her in return for money needed to repay another man who paid his bail.
Fouty was previously admonished in December 2011 for violating cannons of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
If Fouty wants a hearing on her suspension, she must ask for one within 30 days.
Fouty served as a magistrate from 1985 to 1991 and was re-elected in 1996.