Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
W. Va. Code of Jud. Ethics Canons 3C(1), 3C(1)(d) provides that: (1) A judge should disqualify himself in a proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including but not limited to instances where: (d) he or his spouse, or a person within the third degree of relationship to either of them, or the spouse of such a person: (i) is a party to the proceeding, or an officer, director, or trustee of a party; (ii) is acting as a lawyer in the proceeding; (iii) is known by the judge to have an interest that could be substantially affected by the outcome of the proceeding; (iv) is to the judge's knowledge likely to be a material witness in the proceeding. Similar provisions are found in W. Va. Code of Jud. Ethics Canons 3E(1)(c), 3E(1)(d).
In a habeas corpus proceeding, the relators claimed that the magistrate who issued search warrants to obtain evidence in their criminal case was not a neutral and detached magistrate. The magistrate was the wife of the police chief, and one of his officers obtained the warrants in the relators' case. The circuit court held that the magistrate should have disqualified herself, and because she did not ordered that the evidence suppressed.
Was the Circuit Court of Jefferson County correct in holding that a search warrant issued by a magistrate was void because the magistrate was married to the chief of police and one of his officers had procured the warrant?
The court found that the magistrate would have violated the judicial conduct code if she had issued warrants requested by her husband, the police chief. However, because the challenged warrants were not requested by the police chief, but by one of his officers, the magistrate was not required to recuse herself. The court determined that there was no evidence to show any actual bias or partiality on the part of the magistrate.