West Virginia magistrate resigns following suspension over education

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — 3:20 p.m.

A West Virginia magistrate has resigned after it was discovered that she never finished high school, officials said Thursday.

The resignation of former Ohio County Magistrate Janine Varner comes after the state Supreme Court of Appeals suspended her without pay on Wednesday.

The court's ruling did not give a reason for her suspension, saying only that she "has engaged or is currently engaged in a serious violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct." The order came after a motion from the judicial disciplinary counsel earlier this week.

Varner's attorney, Teresa C. Toriseva, on Thursday sent The Associated Press a statement that said Varner didn't graduate from high school but instead completed a vocational program.

Toriseva said she believes Varner meets the state's qualifications for magistrates but that Varner would take the GED test to remove all doubts.

"Ms. Varner expects to and hopes to have a long career in service to the residents of Ohio County by serving as an Ohio County Magistrate," Toriseva's statement said.

A spokeswoman for the Supreme Court of Appeals shared a copy of Varner's one sentence resignation letter with the news media Thursday afternoon.

Varner was appointed as magistrate last month after her predecessor, Harry A. Radcliffe, was sentenced to four months in prison for tax fraud.

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A West Virginia magistrate will take a GED test after being suspended for not finishing high school, her lawyer said Thursday.

Attorney Teresa C. Toriseva issued a statement saying Ohio County Magistrate Janine Varner didn't graduate high school but instead completed a vocational program.

The state Supreme Court of Appeals suspended Varner without pay Wednesday but did not give a reason other than saying there is probable cause she "has engaged or is currently engaged in a serious violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct."

Toriseva says she believes Varner meets the state's qualifications for magistrates but that Varner will take the GED test to remove all doubts.

"Ms. Varner expects to and hopes to have a long career in service to the residents of Ohio County by serving as an Ohio County Magistrate," said Toriseva.

Varner was appointed as magistrate last month after her predecessor, Harry A. Radcliffe, was sentenced to four months in prison for tax fraud.

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4:10 a.m.

A West Virginia magistrate judge has been suspended over a "serious violation" of the judicial code of conduct.

The state Supreme Court of Appeals on Wednesday suspended Ohio County Magistrate Janine Lea Varner without pay. The court's ruling did not give details on what Varner is accused of but says her suspension came after a motion from the judicial disciplinary counsel earlier this week.

The order says there is probably cause that Varner "has engaged or is currently engaged in a serious violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct."

A spokeswoman for the court didn't immediately return voicemail seeking more information. Phone numbers listed for Varner in public records rang unanswered Wednesday.

Varner has a right to request a hearing on her suspension.