If you have the volume on your computer turned up, turn it down. And you might want to put some earplugs in.
What you’re about to hear is a local family court judge in Winfield, WV, absolutely lose his mind during a divorce hearing involving a local pastor. The judge, William M. “Chip” Watkins III, was accusing Rev. Arthur D. Hage of talking to the media after a previous hearing. That conversation, he believed, led to an article about the judge and his wife that apparently included a picture of his house and information about his residence. So when Hage showed up for another hearing, Judge Watkins was irate. And he let loose, threatening to incarcerate Hage for life.
The West Virginia Record explains what happened during the May 23 hearing, which was called to settle a discrepancy over Hage and his wife selling their house:
Shortly after the hearing started, Watkins, calmly, said, “Mr. Hage, if you say one word out of turn, you’re going to jail. Do you understand me?”
To which Hage replied, “Yes.”
Then, Watkins berated Hage for speaking to a reporter following the previous day’s hearing. On May 22, Watkins heard a motion made by [his wife] Lillian’s attorney, Christine Wallace with Legal Aid of West Virginia, that Arthur be held in contempt for speaking with third parties about Lillian’s mental health in violation of the “permanent” protective order Watkins included in their final divorce order.
After that, Watkins accused Hage of being responsible for an article that appeared later that day on a Putnam County news site regarding Watkins and his wife, Rhonda, receiving a letter in the Fall from their homeowner’s association in Brierwood Estates in Teays Valley about them “not being in good standing” with their annual fees. The article included a picture of the Watkins’ house.
When Hage attempted to say something, Watkins screamed, “Shut up! Did I tell you to speak?”
“You put up a picture of my house,” he continued. “Because of you, my wife is there alone, and my house has been vandalized four times. You realize that, of course, as I’m sure you’re probably in on it and laughing about it.”
Then, Watkins says “You, you disgusting piece of …” and pauses for a moment. Upon resuming his tirade, Watkins points his left hand at Hage and says, “I swear to you. You’re responsible. I’m holding you personably responsible for anything that happens to my house.”
“I promise you that if see so much as anyone blanketing my home, my wife, my family, you and me are going to have a problem. …
“Well, buddy, it’s personal. It’s personal, and I can promise you, you will not hear the end of if from me.”
For a moment, Watkins took a breath and started to recuse himself from the hearing. However, he stopped in mid sentence only to say, “I’m too angry to even be appropriate in this case.”
Nevertheless, he continued to berate Arthur, and threaten to have him incarcerated.
“You’re personally responsible,” Watkins said. “Please understand that. I will resign this bench and I will personally see to it that you never see a free day in your life.
“Do you understand? You’re going to jail,” he added. “I swear to God.
Three minutes into the hearing, Watkins gets calmed down, and apologizes to Lillian and Wallace, and formally begins the hearing. Though admitting to being “very upset,” Watkins refuses to recuse himself from it.
But he wasn’t done there. After Watkins ordered Hage to pay some money, Hage tried to explain he didn’t have it. Watkins lost it again:
“You’re supposed to be a man of God,” Watkins says in a raised voice. “How come you swear to tell the truth, but the very first thing out of your mouth is a lie. It’s a lie. It’s a damn lie, and you know it’s a damn lie.”
When Hage attempted to talk, Watkins screamed “Shut up! I didn’t tell you to talk! Did I tell you to talk? What did I tell you right at the beginning of the hearing? Are you deaf?”
Later in the hearing, Watkins granted a motion by Wallace that nearly $1,500 be deducted from Arthur’s share of the proceeds from the sale of the house to cover expenses, including her fees. Toward the end of hearing, Watkins said because Arthur’s actions, or lack thereof, were an attempt to “torpedo the deal” in violation of the protective order, he was going ask Putnam County Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia consider bringing criminal charges against Hage.
“I am going to refer this to the prosecuting attorney with a strong recommendation he be prosecuted for violating the protective order,” Watkins said. “Maybe a little time in the Western Regional Jail will straighten you out.”
Here is the shocking video:
Hage has since filed an ethics complaint. Watkins has since recused himself from the case.
(H/T: Business Insider)