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Former Mercer magistrate publicly admonished

MERCER COUNTY (WVVA) - A former Mercer County magistrate is being called an "embarrassment to the robe" after a formal investigation.

Former magistrate Rick Fowler has been publicly admonished by a commission under West Virginia's Supreme Court.

Fowler has been under investigation since September 2013 after inappropriate messages between him and another woman became public.

These documents detail how that woman and her boyfriend appeared before fowler in court.

The allegations say Fowler tried to persuade the woman to let her boyfriend sit in jail for ten days.

The Judicial Investigation Commission has found probable cause that Fowler violated multiple parts of the code of judicial conduct.

Fowler was also publicly admonished in 2012 after becoming involved with a man's wife.

That couple also appeared before him in court, and the man tells us he could not be more relieved to see fowler out of office.

"I'm ecstatic,” said Danny Griffith. “In 2012 a very similar incident happened about me. Mr. Fowler and my then wife were having an affair. I'm very ecstatic that justice has finally prevailed. And hopefully this won't happen to anyone else."

While the commission says their findings support formal charges being brought against Fowler, they say that the public is now "protected" because he resigned and will never again seek public office.

Commission chairperson, Ronald E. Wilson, wrote that Fowler’s “use of position as a means to satisfy his personal desires was more than fool hardy and humiliating; it was a blatant abuse of power.” Also saying Fowler’s behavior shows he lacks the “dignity and character to be a judge.”

The commission says they are reserving the right to reopen these allegations if Fowler tries to run for a public office seat again.

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