Delegates introduce House Resolution 6, call for impeachment of W.Va Family Court judge
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WVVA) - On Monday, January 23, a resolution calling for the impeachment of West Virginia Family Court Judge Louise E. Goldston was introduced into the West Virginia House of Delegates.
Goldston was appointed to be a Family Law Master in 1994, giving her nearly three decades worth of experience on the bench. She currently serves as a Judge of the Family Court of the 13th Circuit, which covers Raleigh and Wyoming Counties.
This move for impeachment follows what the sponsors of House Resolution 6 call a “warrantless search” orchestrated by Goldston in March of 2020. The resolution’s lead sponsor Delegate Geoff Foster (R-Putnam, 20) says Goldston violated a Raleigh County citizen’s constitutional rights when she entered the home, without a warrant and despite the homeowner’s objections.
“That’s something that we can’t have, our judges stepping outside the bounds of their responsibility for, and it’s come upon the legislature to if the judge doesn’t- isn’t removed from office or doesn’t step down, then...it’s incumbent upon us to go through the impeachment process.”
House Resolution 6 says that Goldston was formally charged by the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Committee in September of 2020. In November of 2021, she was censured and fined $1,000 by the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. However, legislators in Charleston don’t think this action was the adequate response, especially given a statement made by Goldston, saying she believed she had done nothing wrong.
“What I saw was a lack of accountability, a lack of culpability that when you look historically back to when we went through the impeachment process with the Supreme Court, you know, we were kind of left in a place where what does out society do? What does our government do to correct these kinds of wrongs?” said Brandon Steele (R-Raleigh, 42), a co-sponsor of House Resolution 6.
“In reality, the last line of defense is the people’s house, the House of Delegates, to introduce a resolution to impeach someone to take care of these problems.”
Despite several lawyers in the House putting their names to the resolution, Robert Dunlap, a Raleigh County attorney, says it is “shocking” and “unnecessary.”
“It makes no sense,” Dunlap stated. “I mean, the word that comes to mind is superfluous. Why would you ruin someone’s 30-plus-year career, serving our community, and being a good family court judge when she made a mistake and was censured by the Supreme Court and that was handled and resolved? I mean, frankly, it feels very personal.”
Following its introduction, House Resolution 6 will be passed to the Judiciary Committee, and they will decide when and if it will be read on the House floor. If the bill passes in the House, Steele says it will then be up to the Senate to hold a trial of sorts to determine the appropriate punishment, such as enforcing a removal of office, a fine, a censure, etc.
WVVA has reached out to Goldston for a comment on the calls for her impeachment. Her office says she does not wish to comment at this time.
Read House Resolution 6 in its entirety here.
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