Logan County Family Court Judge Gave Legal Advice, Had Sexual Relationship With SecretaryUpdated: Friday, July 17, 2015 | Leslie A. Rubin
LOGAN, W.Va. – A Logan County Family Court Judge who abruptly resigned last week was facing disciplinary action, according to a public admonishment made public on Friday.
The Honorable Ronald E. Wilson, chairperson for the Judicial Investigation Commission, signed the document on July 13th.
The commission found that formal disciplinary action was not essential since Jason Harwood had agreed to resign his position and never again seek judicial office in West Virginia.
Harwood submitted his resignation letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, stating that his resignation would be effective at 5:01 p.m. on July 10th.
Harwood was sworn into office in late December 2008 and formally took the position in January 2009.
According to the admonishment, Harwood had an improper sexual relationship with his secretary, identified as TFM, after he hired her in 2009. TFM was promoted the position of Family Court Case Coordinator in 2011 after Harwood requested that she be promoted to the position. TFM served as the coordinator until the end of March 2011.
Harwood has acknowledged that it is not appropriate for a judicial officer to engage in such a relationship, according to the admonishment.
Harwood and TFM continued to have e-mail contact after she left his employ. “On some occasions TFM sent e-mails in which she discussed certain cases pending before him concerning her friends. It appears that TFM felt she could discuss these improper subject with Judge Harwood, and he did nothing to discourage her from contacting him or discussing the matters,” the admonishment states.
“Judge Harwood developed an unfavorable reputation in his work environment and perhaps in the community concerning his attitude toward women as sex objects, which was contributed to by his use of language of a sexual nature and his crude utterances about a woman’s physical appearance,” the admonishment states.
The investigation found that Harwood violated multiple canons of the state’s Judicial Code of Conduct because of the relationship with his secretary. Harwood also gave inappropriate legal advice to a friend who had a case pending in another county’s family court system.
Judges are not allowed to give legal advice, according to the Code of Conduct.
Harwood served as an Logan County assistant prosecutor and a public defender before being elected family court judge.