Putnam County's family court judge, facing formal charges from the Judicial Investigation Commission, is not the busiest in the state.
Several other counties have more cases filed, and a number of judges have higher caseloads than William "Chip" Watkins, according to figures from the Supreme Court.
Watkins contends he is overwhelmed by the number of cases he has to handle in Putnam County, and has said he holds more than 2,500 hearings a year. Watkins has asked the Supreme Court for help with that caseload.
The controversial judge was initially charged Aug. 9 for failing to rule on cases promptly enough and for not entering domestic violence orders into the state's tracking system. More charges were filed against him a month later concerning his
alleged abusive treatment of people in his courtroom.
Watkins said he holds up to 40 hearings a day and handles more divorces than any other family court judge in West Virginia.
According to the 2011 West Virginia Court System Annual Report, of the 37,325 domestic cases filed in the state last year, 944 were filed in Putnam County. Watkins, the only family court judge in that county, hears them all.
He's not the only one with that kind of caseload — Fayette County's single family court judge heard 974 cases last year; Marion County's sole family court judge heard 869 cases and Mingo County's only family court judge heard 1,085 cases.
Cabell County's two family court judges handled 2,176 domestic cases in 2011 — more than 1,000 cases per judge. In Wood County, the two family court judges handled 2,123 cases between them, also more than 1,000 per judge.
In Kanawha County, five family court judges took on 4,362 cases last year — about 872 cases per judge.
And while Watkins says the number of cases in Putnam County is increasing as the population there rises, his number of cases from 2010 actually dropped slightly — by 0.6 percent.