The Judicial Investigation Commission of West Virginia publicly admonished Ohio County Magistrate Patty Murphy for her actions following the November drunken driving arrest of a colleague of Murphy's cousin.
The admonishment comes as the result of a complaint filed with the commission. The identity of the individual who filed that complaint is not being made public, per commission rules of confidentiality.
Teresa Tarr, counsel for the Judicial Investigation Commission, declined to comment on Murphy's case, and referred to the commission rules of judicial disciplinary procedure.
Those rules state that an admonishment shall be issued "when it has been determined that probable cause does exist, but that formal discipline is not appropriate under the circumstances."
Murphy's attorney, Robert McCoid, issued the following statement: "Magistrate Patty Murphy conducted an arraignment of an arrestee last November outside of ordinary hours.
"She, like virtually all magistrates in West Virginia, has been willing to do this very thing as a courtesy to lawyers, police officers, and even perfect strangers when requested.
"However, the Judicial Investigation Commission believed that her conduct created at least the appearance of impropriety. While Magistrate Murphy did not believe at the time that she was engaging in any improper conduct, she fully accepts the commission's admonishment and has no plans to appeal the ruling.
"She looks forward to continuing to serve citizens of Ohio County with her customary diligence, hard work, and impartiality."
Murphy's cousin, Corey Murphy, and Shelbie Haines were arrested after Haines collided with a sign at the Stifel Fine Arts Center while driving drunk on Nov. 10 and then fled the scene. Corey Murphy was a passenger in the car.
Wheeling police located Haines and Corey Murphy in the vehicle in front of his home on Laurel Avenue. Both smelled of alcohol and failed field sobriety tests at the scene.
Corey Murphy allegedly mentioned to officers that he is related to Magistrate Murphy, and that he personally knows Ohio County Sheriff Pat Butler and former sheriff Tom Burgoyne.
Haines was arrested for DUI after admitting she was driving the vehicle, while Corey Murphy was cited for failure to produce a driver's license and released to a sober individual.
While en route to book Haines in the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville, Patty Murphy, the on-call magistrate that day, directed officers to return Haines to Wheeling for the arraignment process because "she didn't want her to go to jail," the police report states.
Officers said Patty Murphy was reviewing documents with Haines in court when she stopped the arraignment process before it was complete. Murphy then advised the officers that they had fulfilled their obligations and could leave. The magistrate instructed Haines to return the following day to complete the arraignment, according to police.
Patty Murphy in November contrasted officers' account, maintaining she completed the arraignment process the day of the arrest. Haines was released that day on a personal recognizance bond to a sober individual. She has since entered into a court diversion program to resolve the charge.
At the time of his arrest, Corey Murphy was employed as the John Marshall High School principal, but has since been promoted to Marshall County Schools assistant superintendent.
Haines was working as the school system's special education director, a job which she still holds.