Judge Michael J. Kelly Conflict of Interest

Family judge/board member orders defendant to take classes at his own nonprofit organization

Public defender challenges judge’s use of Magistrate Express

Kanawha County, West Virginia Family Law judge Michael J. Kelly has been previously noted for his retaliatory bias against Mark Hallburn for Hallburn’s part in the Judicial Investigation Commission hearing of judge William M. “Chip” Watkins, III.

Recently, judge Kelly has been accused of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct in another case.

According to Assistant Kanawha County Public Defender Sara Whitaker, Kelly’s displayed bias by using Magistrate Express, a database for prosecutors, public defenders and courthouse personnel, to dig into the criminal history of defendants in his courtroom.

Whitaker filed a writ of prohibition asking that Kelly be prohibited from doing the same in the case of her client Thomas J. Cobb III. Shortly after, Kelly ordered Cobb to take classes taught by the Kanawha Institute for Social Research and Action, a faith-based nonprofit organization. Cobb will also have to pay a $160.80 monitoring fee.

Kelly is listed on the organization’s website as a member of its board of directors.

No statement has been made by either Judge Kelly or the KISRA board regarding this conflict of interest.


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