Family law judge accused of delaying decision on correcting erroneous order

By Lawrence Smith | Apr 26, 2012

CHARLESTON – A Charleston woman wants a circuit judge to order a family court judge to stop his dawdling, and correct an erroneous order he signed a year ago.

Kanawha Family Law Judge Robert Montgomery is named as a respondent in a writ of mandamus filed April 20 by Beth Ann George. In her writ, George alleges Montgomery not only hastily signed a custodial order regarding the three daughters she shares with her ex-husband, Keith Joseph George, last April, but also has failed to schedule a hearing on her motion to either vacate or reconsider his ruling.

According to the writ, a telephonic hearing was held on March 22, 2011, regarding "various divorce-custody related issues." Later on April 6, Beth alleges Keith's attorneys, Mark A. Swartz and Allyson Griffith "submitted an order to the Court which was completely incorrect, and did not comport with the Court's rulings."

Despite her attorney, Julia Shalhoup, filing objections within five days, Beth alleges Montgomery "signed the Order before the expiration of that time period." According to her writ, Beth says among the objections she had with the April 11, 2011, order was the issue of their daughters, Hannah, Amanda and Sarrah, traveling to out-of-state soccer games.

Though the order said both Beth and Keith were to take responsibility to ensure the girls attended their "regularly scheduled activities including travel soccer," Beth maintains it incorrectly states that "if the children want to attend travel soccer matches, then they may, etc."

The discretion of taking Hannah, Amanda and Sarrah to away games becomes problematic, Beth says, because Keith "always plans something to conflict with soccer" while she is "trying to teach them the virtue of keeping all commitments." Also, Beth says, despite her willingness to incur all costs associated with travel soccer, Montgomery incorrectly split them between she and Keith.

According to the writ, Shalhoup, in response to Montgomery's April 11 order, filed a motion to reconsider on April 28. However, "despite constant inquires, both written and through staff, [Montgomery] has failed to rule on [Beth George]'s motion or grant a hearing on [it]."

As a result, Beth maintains Montgomery's inaction has 'had a tremendous economic and emotional impact" on her. As relief, Beth seeks an order compelling Montgomery to either hold a hearing on the pending motion to reconsider or issue a ruling on its merits based on a review of the record from the March 22, 2011, telephonic hearing.

The case is assigned to Judge James C. Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 12-MISC-222

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