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Elkins judge suspended by high court resigns

ELKINS, W.Va. — Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong has resigned her position in the wake of an extramarital affair with a county employee.

Wilfong, who was suspended by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals late last month, told the Associated Press in an email that she had submitted her letter of resignation to Chief Justice Robin Davis.

David A. Sims, one of Wilfong’s attorneys, confirmed to The Inter-Mountain that she is resigning her post, although Supreme Court Public Information Officer Jennifer Bundy said court officials had yet to receive the letter as of late Tuesday.

“As of 2:50 p.m. today, no one at the Supreme Court has received a resignation letter from Judge Jaymie Wilfong,” Bundy wrote in an email. “Not Chief Justice Robin Davis, not Court Administrator Steve Canterbury and not Human Resources Director Chris Workman.”

Multiple calls and telephone messages left for both Wilfong and her Charleston-based attorney, Harry G. Deitzler, were not returned as of presstime.

Deitzler, of Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler, told the Associated Press that Wilfong’s letter of resignation was mailed to Chief Justice Davis on Tuesday. Deitzler also told the AP that Wilfong planned on opening a private law practice in Elkins.

“As this chapter of my life comes to a close, a new one begins,” Wilfong told The West Virginia Record. “I am excited to be opening my own private practice in Elkins and anticipate handling various cases across the state. Tentatively, I plan to open my doors on Dec. 1, and look forward to serving the citizens of this state in a different way.”

The 20th circuit court judge cited several reasons that contributed to her resignation.

“Ultimately, I do not want to burden the taxpayers of this state with the financial obligation to pay for the services of senior status judges during the period of my suspension. This was one of my main considerations in my decision to resign,” Wilfong wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

In the Mountain State, circuit court judges are paid $126,000 a year, which is set by the state Legislature. Senior status judges receive mileage and meal expenses as well as a per diem of $435 per day.

Senior Status Judges Thomas W. Steptoe Jr. and Thomas H. Keadle have been handling the caseload in circuit court since May, when Chief Justice Davis granted several petitions to recuse Wilfong from hearing cases. The most notable petition was filed by Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker.

In addition to Steptoe and Keadle, Senior Status Judge John L. Henning was recalled to active service after the Oct. 30 Supreme Court decision to suspend Wilfong.

In its decision, the High Court suspended Wilfong for the remainder of her term, which expires in 2016. The Court also censured the judge for 11 violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct and ordered Wilfong to “pay all costs associated with the investigation and prosecution of the violations” she committed while serving the people of Randolph County.

Officials estimate those costs to be about $8,000.

“We are suspending Judge Wilfong from her job for the remainder of her term without pay,” the High Court’s decision read. “She cannot ethically take pay from any other job while she continues as a suspended judge. Should Judge Wilfong choose to resign her position, she will likely be without pay for some time still.”

The decision followed a nearly year-long investigation by the Judicial Investigation Commission and the West Virginia Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Lawyer Disciplinary Board into the judge’s admitted two-plus-year extramarital affair with the then-executive director of the North Central Community Corrections program, Travis Carter.

Wilfong also told the Associated Press Tuesday that comments made by local attorneys who filed reports about her conduct caused her to re-evaluate herself, her marriage and the way people perceive her.

“For that, I am grateful,” she said. “What I did was morally wrong, and it created discomfort among those who surround me. I again wish to apologize to each of those individuals and humbly ask for their forgiveness.”

Wilfong said her conduct did not adversely affect any decision, litigant or hearing over which she presided.

A lawyer since 1995, Wilfong had served as a circuit judge since 2009. She previously served as a family court judge for six years.

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