CHARLESTON – Kanawha Magistrate Tim Halloran has recommended his assistant to fill the seat of former Magistrate Julie Yeager.
Halloran’s letter to Kanawha Chief Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey proposed his assistant, Melanie Rucker.
“Ms. Rucker has served the 13th Judicial Circuit for over 16 years,” Halloran wrote. “She has working knowledge of our computer system and court procedures.”
Rucker was a candidate for magistrate in the 2016 election coming in second to Yeager.
“Did Ms. Yeager use stolen money to help her win? Further investigation is needed to answer this question,” Halloran wrote. “Additionally, when other magistrate assistants refused to work with Ms. Yeager, Melanie worked with Julie Yeager without incident, therein exhibiting her professionalism.”
Rucker is fully aware she will face election in 2018 to serve the remainder of the terms that end in 2020, according to Halloran’s letter.
“I am in hope you and your fellow judges make what I believe to be the decent and honorable decision to appoint Ms. Rucker immediately,” Halloran wrote. “The appointment of Ms. Rucker will go a long way to satisfy the 15,444 citizens of Kanawha County who voted and supported Ms. Rucker in the last May 2016 election.”
Yeager abruptly resigned last week after a complaint was filed alleging she embezzled from the West Virginia Magistrate Association. The Kanawha County prosecutor’s office will investigate the allegations.
State Supreme Court Administrator Gary Johnson filed a complaint accusing Yeager of stealing at least $14,000 from the WVMA, for which she served as treasurer. Yeager resigned the next day.
Yeager has not been criminally charged.
Yeager had been a Kanawha magistrate since 2004 and had not been the subject of judicial discipline before now, according to a report from the Judicial Disciplinary Counsel.