A controversial Putnam County Family Court judge is facing five new charges alleging he violated the judicial code of conduct by using profanity and berating people who appeared before him in his courtroom.
The state Judicial Investigation Commission filed a five-count formal complaint on Aug. 31 against Putnam Family Court Judge William "Chip" Watkins III. Watkins was officially served with a copy of the charges Tuesday.
The counts stem from five separate complaints filed by individuals who say they were shouted at, cursed or disrespected by the judge in violation of the judicial canons of ethics.
The current accusations are the second set of charges filed against Watkins in recent months. In July, the commission cited Watkins for failing to rule on motions and enter domestic violence orders into the state's online tracking system.
Watkins' behavior first came under public scrutiny when a 16-minute recording of a courtroom outburst began circulating on the Internet. The video was an official court recording of a May 23 divorce hearing for Arthur and Lillian Hage.
Watkins' actions during that hearing are the basis for the first count of the new charges.
Watkins had blamed Arthur Hage, pastor of Hurricane Bible Church, for an article that appeared on a news website that featured pictures of the judge's home.
In the video, Watkins repeatedly yelled at Hage to "shut up" while he was speaking.
The complaint also says Watkins chided Hage later in the hearing, accusing him of lying under oath.
"It's a damn lie and you know it's a damn lie," Watkins said to Hage. "I'd love for your parishioners to know that the first thing you do when you swear to God to tell the truth, you come in here and tell a lie."
In a second count, Sharon Stinson accused Watkins of making inappropriate comments during an April custody hearing. During the hearing, Stinson said getting pregnant was "an accident."
"Well, honey, it ain't an accident," Watkins said. "You don't get them off of toilet seats."
Watkins later said the child's father had "got into some dumb shit," according to the complaint. As the hearing moved on, Watkins also allegedly said he didn't want to spend more time finding out "who was the biggest jackass in the operation."
After the Special Judiciary Disciplinary Counsel asked Watkins about the incident, he said he remembered only the "dumb shit" comment and had apologized for it.
"I use earthy language at times to make a point," Watkins said in his written response to the counsel.