ODC Withdraws Motion to Suspend Lewis’ License
The WV Record Reports:
A Morgantown attorney accused of shooting and wounding a homeless man at his camp in Clay County will, for now, be allowed to continue practicing law.
The day following his June 13 arrest on charges of wanton endangerment and malicious wounding, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, the arm of the state Supreme Court that investigates attorney misconduct, petitioned the Court for the immediate suspension of Hiram C. Lewis IV’s license. In its petition, ODC said Lewis’ “current incarceration creates a clear disability to represent and protect his clients’ interest at this time.“
“At this time, [Lewis] poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to the public at this time.“
Along with the suspension, ODC asked the court to appoint an attorney to act as trustee for Lewis’ clients. The next day the Court granted ODC’s motion, and ordered Chief Clay Circuit Judge Jack Alsop to appoint the trustee.
Later, the Court scheduled a hearing on Aug. 7 to allow Lewis to contest the suspension.
However, the Court on June 27 announced it granted a follow-up motion by ODC to withdraw its petition and cancel the Aug. 7 hearing. The petition came as a result of Lewis’ release from the Central Regional Jail in Sutton after posting a $70,000 bond.
Despite withdrawing its motion, ODC said it is still considering bringing disciplinary action against Lewis relating to his actions that day.
Since his arrest, Lewis, who ran unsuccessfully for attorney general in 2004 and U.S. Senate in 2006, has maintained he shot Steven Bogart, a homeless veteran he befriended shortly after moving to his camp in Procious in early June, in self-defense following an altercation between them. At his preliminary hearing on June 19, Lewis testified the altercation was a result of Bogart becoming agitated at Lewis telling him to turn down the music he was playing because it was disturbing a neighbor.
According to Lewis, after the two exchanged words inside the cabin, Lewis ordered Bogart outside to the screened in porch where Bogart was residing. When Bogart kicked in the door, and assaulted him, Lewis said he used a pistol to shoot him in the knee.
Lewis’ case is awaiting presentation before the Clay County grand jury.
~~ Lawrence Smith - The WV Record ~~
Governor Tomblin Issues Statement on Supreme Court’s Decision on Federal Health Care
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today issued the following statement regarding the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling to uphold the individual insurance requirement of the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA).
“We know what the law is but as I’ve said before, I will continue to do what is best for West Virginia. We all know health care costs continue to rise and our health care system must be more efficient. We’re going to review the Supreme Court’s ruling, and work with our federal delegation on how we move forward.”
McKinley Reacts to Supreme Court’s Decision Upholding Bulk of ObamaCare
Congressman David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV) is criticizing today’s decision in upholding President Obama’s health care plan. The nation’s highest court handed down the decision just minutes ago in Washington, D.C.
“I am disappointed the Supreme Court upheld a health care plan that clearly goes against our Constitution,” said Rep. McKinley. “Not only is ObamaCare a bad policy that has increased healthcare costs, exploded the deficit and hurt small businesses, it is based on dubious Constitutional authority.”
ObamaCare costs America $1.76 trillion over its first 10 years and adds 17 new taxes or penalties. In addition, it will punish small businesses with more red tape and the employer mandate will cause the elimination of 1.6 million jobs, with 66% of those coming from small businesses.
“We will continue our fight to fully repeal ObamaCare,” said Rep. McKinley. “All Americans should have the right to make their own health care choices. Restricting choice and punishing individuals and employers is the wrong way to reform health care, whether the court agrees or not.“
“Once ObamaCare is fully repealed, we will not rush into the same mistakes made by President Obama and the Democrats,” said Rep. McKinley. “We need to listen to the American people to get health care reform right, and we should take the time to do so.”
The court was divided on a number of provisions in the health care law.
Manchin Statement on Supreme Court Health Care Ruling
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) issued the following statement about the Supreme Court’s ruling on the health care law.
“We should all recognize that the health care challenges that many West Virginians and Americans face are not going to go away unless Congress takes additional action to repair this bill. Now that the Court has ruled, we can move forward with fixing what is wrong with this bill and saving what is right. I have always been determined to reduce the burden on states from the Medicaid expansion, and this ruling affirms my position – and makes clear that states must have the flexibility to live within their means by determining Medicaid eligibility as each state sees fit. I have always said one size doesn’t fit all.
“In addition, I believe there are several parts of this bill that are good for West Virginians: especially ending discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, improving access to preventive care and eliminating the prescription drug donut hole for seniors. Looking ahead, we must work to find common ground on the individual mandate, which doesn’t make sense to West Virginians. I am determined to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move forward with a solution.”
OddlyEnough™: Court Video Details Angry Outburst of WV Judge during Divorce Proceeding
A judge’s rant during a court proceeding in Putnam County is drawing attention after it was posted to YouTube this week.
The video is court surveillance from a May 23rd divorce proceeding. Hurricane Pastor Arthur Hage and his estranged wife are before Family Court Judge William Watkins for a hearing over the pending sale of their home.
As the proceeding gets started, Judge Watkins addresses Hage and grows increasingly angry over a story posted to an internet news site which featured a picture of the judge’s home.
“Mr. Hage if you say one word out of turn, you’re going to jail,“ Watkins starts his address.
...... Now You be the Judge ......
Judge Watkins then proceeds to berate Hage over the pictured and the negative attention it’s drawn to his family.
“A picture of my home, on the front page, SHUT UP! DON’T EVEN SPEAK,“ Watkins can be heard screaming on the video. “My wife is disabled and you.. you disgusting piece of ...“
Watkins says his windows were broken and his home vandalized after the picture was posted. He holds Hage personally responsible.
Eventually, Watkins says he’s so angry he will recuse himself from the case. However, he reconsiders and continues with the hearing. Now that a month has passed, Watkins has removed himself from the case and it’s been assigned to another judge.
Officials with the Judicial Investigation Commission are aware of the video and have watched it. However, whether they’ll investigate the judge’s actions are unclear. Hage says he’s filed several complaints with the commission about Watkins during his divorce case.
GFP - 06.28.2012
TV & Radio
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G-otcha™: Lewis County Resident Enters Plea to Use of a Firearm during a Crime of Violence
An 18 year old Lewis County, West Virginia, resident entered a plea of guilty on June 26, 2012, in United States District Court in Elkins before Magistrate Judge John S. Kaull.
United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that: CHRISTOPHER BILLS entered a plea of guilty to “Use of a Firearm During a Crime of Violence.”
BILLS was charged with using the firearm during the robbery of a 7-Eleven store in Weston, West Virginia.
The charge stems from a robbery of a 7-Eleven store in Weston, West Virginia, on November 27, 2011.
BILLS, who is in custody pending sentencing, faces up to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Zelda E. Wesley and was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 06.26.12
Judge Richard A. Facemire presided over his motion day on Monday, June 25, 2012 in Gilmer County finishing before Noon.
• Two fugitives waived extradition back to their respective states.
Juan Carlos Gomez (who required an interpreter) waived to return to Texas and Jason Lee McAdoo waived to return to his state of Virginia.
Both defendants were represented by Christina Flanigan of Buckhannon.
When Judge Facemire called the criminal docket for the July term of Court he directed the Clerk to reissue warrants for 25 persons who were not present, some of the cases date back to the year 2000.
Several cases were set for trial as follows:
• State of West Virginia vs. Charles Emerson
He is represented by Kevin Duffy of Clay.
Case is set for trial on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
• State of West Virginia vs. Gary Ferrell
He is now represented by Daniel Armstrong of Gassaway.
Case is set for trial on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 and his pretrial is set for Monday, August 27, 2012 at 11:00 AM.
• State of West Virginia vs. Tonya Ramsey
She is now represented by Christina Flanigan.
Case is set for 2nd trial on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
• State of West Virginia vs. Jimmie Glen Stewart
He is now represented by hired attorney, Steve Nanners
Case is set for 3rd trial on Tuesday, August 28, 2012.
• State of West Virginia vs. Catherine McGhee
Case is set for trial on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 9:00 AM with pre-trial on Tuesday, July 03, 2012 at 9:00 AM.
She is represented by Daniel Armstrong of Gassaway also.
• State of West Virginia vs. Alicia Nichole Wine
Case is set for plea hearing on Tuesday, July 03, 2012 at 9:00 AM.
She is represented by Clinton Bischoff of Summersville.
• State of West Virginia vs. Sundee Honaker
Case is set for plea hearing on Tuesday, July 03, 2012 at 9:00 AM.
Her attorney is David Karickhoff of Sutton.
• One juvenile case was set for Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 9:00 AM.
• Another juvenile is set for hearing on Friday, July 06, 2012 at 9:00 AM.
• Another juvenile case was dismissed.
• Several other juveniles were set for Monday, September 24, 2012 at 9:05, 9:10, 9:15 and 9:20 AM.
• State of West Virginia vs. Cason Jones
He was before the Court for expungement and was granted by the Court.
• A civil case was reset for Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 9:00 AM due to party failing to appear.
• A wedding was performed between Rose Greenlief and Jeff Harper after the Judge completed his docket.
Chief Judge Jack Alsop appeared in Gilmer County on Tuesday, June 26, 2012 with the petit jury reporting to try one or two criminal cases.
After discussion between the prosecutor and defense attorney, Judge Alsop released the jurors to call back on Wednesday regarding a final trial set for June 28, 2012.
Then he took 2 pleas as follows:
• State of West Virginia vs. Shane Posey
He pled to failure to register as a sex offender and will be sentenced Monday, August 13, 2012 at 11:30 AM.
He was represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway.
• State of West Virginia vs. Timothy Furr
He pled to attempted burglary and possession of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture or deliver a Schedule I controlled substance (marijuana).
Fur was represented by Adkins of Sissonville and will also be sentenced on Monday, August 13, 2012 at 11:00 AM.
• Also Brittany Thompson, a witness, failed to appear after being duly subpoenaed and served.
Prosecuting Attorney Gerald Hough asked for a rule to show cause to be issued against her and the clerk issued it returnable for Monday, August 13, 2012 at 11:15 AM for her to explain to the Court why she failed to appear.
GFP - 06.27.2012
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Gilmer County Family Court Report – 06.22.12
Family Court Judge Larry Whited recently granted a divorce between Heather Yeager (26) of Jane Lew, WV who divorced Joseph Yeager (39) of Cox’s Mills, WV on 06.22.2012.
Gilmer County Receives $37K Grant
The West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services, the administrative agency for the Court Security Fund Grant Program, has informed the Gilmer County Commission that it will be the recipient of a $37,676.00 grant.
The grant serves the purpose of enhancing the county court security.
These upgrades will help to make Gilmer Counties Magistrate Courts, Family Courts, and Circuit Courts safer, as well as courthouse employees and county citizens.
WV Supreme Court Weighs in on Medicaid Recovery
A divided West Virginia Supreme Court has awarded the state’s Medicaid program a somewhat larger reimbursement from a medical malpractice settlement.
The Department of Health and Human Resources sought to recover around $289,000 spent on behalf of a severely brain-damaged child after his family received the $3.6 million settlement.
A circuit judge in 2010 instead awarded around $79,000. This week’s ruling increased that amount to $96,000 minus lawyer fees and costs.
Chief Justice Menis Ketchum and Justice Margaret Workman issued separate dissenting opinions.
Each said that as Medicaid will continue to cover the child, the program should be allowed to recover future costs.
Both also urged the Legislature to strengthen state laws governing Medicaid reimbursements.
Ketchum wrote that Thursday’s ruling will cost West Virginia millions of dollars annually.
ELECTION COMPLAINT-DISCLOSURE: WV Judge Voids Elections Complaint Gag Law
A West Virginia judge has ruled that someone accused of violating elections law can rebut the allegations publicly.
Currently WV law threatens anyone who discloses an elections complaint with a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine and jail time.
But Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom says that blanket gag order is an overly broad restriction of speech.
He ruled the law unconstitutional in a Monday order.
As a result, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said on Wednesday that she will start confirming whether an investigation is underway.
G-otcha™:Massachusetts Woman Charged With Traveling to WV to Have Sex with a Minor in Linn, WV
A woman from Massachusetts has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly traveling to West Virginia to have sex with a minor, according to United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II.
CARISSA HADS, age 25, of Quincy, Massachusetts (both pictures), was named in a one count indictment this week charging her with “Traveling in Interstate Commerce with the Intent to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct.”
The indictment charges that on February 23, 2012, HADS traveled from Massachusetts to North Central West Virginia to have sex with a minor.
Court documents indicate that HADS posed as an 18-year old man on a social media website and also took steps to change her appearance in order to deceive the victim as to her true identity.
HADS met the alleged victim online in 2010 and the two communicated for over a year before the first in-person meeting took place.
HADS traveled at least three times from Massachusetts to visit the alleged victim, and was arrested at the Pittsburgh International Airport by F.B.I. agents on May 25, 2012 on one of her visits to the area.
A federal magistrate judge has ordered that HADS be detained pending trial after finding that she is danger to the community as well as a flight risk.
If convicted, HADS faces up to 30 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.
Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
HADS is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
“The West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is to be commended in how it conducted this investigation,” said Ihlenfeld. “After the tip was received immediate steps were taken to ensure the safety of the victim and to make sure that the suspect was held accountable.”
The case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn A. Morgan, Chief of the Criminal Division for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
GFP - 06.20.2012
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West Virginia Supreme Court to Take Up Hiram Lewis Case
The Clay County grand jury is the next stop for felony charges against former statewide political candidate Hiram Lewis but he now faces possible discipline from the state Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court announced late Tuesday that it has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, August 07, 2012 in the case Office of Disciplinary Counsel vs. Lewis.
Hiram Lewis, an attorney, was arrested on June 13, 2012 on malicious wounding and wanton endangerment charges.
A Clay County magistrate heard the case Tuesday and forwarded the charges.
Lewis, age 41, has not denied shooting Steve Bogart, age 53, last week at a house in Procious, but he says he was protecting himself.
Lewis took the stand in his own defense Tuesday.
Lewis was a candidate for state Attorney General in 2004 and 2008 and the U.S. Senate in 2006.
He remains in the Central Regional Jail.
His bail has been lowered to $70,000.
The next meeting of the Clay County grand jury is set for Tuesday, July 10, 2012.
Imprisonment Status: Pre-Trial Felon
||Lewis, Hiram Carson
||Central Regional Jail
Offender Court Order Information
|Court Info Number
||Issuing Agency Location
||CLAY COUNTY - Bail Amount: $70.000.00
Gilmer County Family Court Report – 06.13.12
Family Court Judge Larry Whited presided over Family Court on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 and heard several matters.
• Polly Ann Hensley (51) of Rosedale, WV from Anthony Hensley (43) of NC.
• Diana Lynn Holmes (42) of Sand Fork, WV divorced Joshua Glen Holmes (33) also of Sand Fork, WV.
• One divorce case involving Lori and Steven Carter was dismissed.
• Another divorce case involving Alyssa and Brent Waddell was continued until Wednesday, July 11t, 2012.
• Another divorce case was set between Robin Schimmel and James Schimmel
But both parties have lawyers so no paperwork was received.
Law Firm Files DePuy Pinnacle Lawsuit on Behalf of Gilmer County, WV Man
National Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Law Firm Files DePuy Pinnacle Lawsuit on Behalf of Gilmer County, WV Man
Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of victims injured by defective medical devices, has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a West Virginia man who suffered pain and elevated cobalt levels, allegedly due to his DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant, which was used in conjunction with a metal “Ultamet” liner. The suit was filed on June 6th in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas (Case No. 3:12-cv-01757-N) and named DePuy Orthopaedics and parent company Johnson & Johnson as Defendants.
According to the complaint, the Plaintiff, a resident of Gilmer County, West Virginia, received the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant around June 2010. Allegedly, the Plaintiff developed injuries and complications due to the defective implant, but was initially unaware of this causal relationship due to the Defendant’s inadequate warnings. The plaintiff discovered the link between his injuries and the implant in fall of 2010, the complaint states. The defective and faulty nature of the Pinnacle allegedly caused significant pain and elevated cobalt levels. The lawsuit alleges past, present and future physical and mental pain and suffering along with past, present and future medical, hospital, rehabilitative and pharmaceutical expenses, lost wages, and other related damages.
According to Parker Waichman LLP, the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant is meant to mimic the ball-and-socket mechanism of the hip joint in patients who suffer from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, avascular necrosis (AVN), fracture and other degenerative conditions. It consists of a femoral stem attached to a metal head that rotates inside a titanium acetabular cup. The inside of the cup is lined with a plastic, ceramic or cobalt-chromium liner; the latter is branded as the “Ultamet.” When the Pinnacle is used with the Ultamet metal liner, it is known as a metal-on-metal hip implant.
According to the complaint, the DePuy Pinnacle and other metal-on-metal hip implants were able to circumvent adequate testing due to an approval process known as the 510(k). The 510(k) route allows devices onto the market without clinical evidence to prove its safety or efficacy, so long as manufacturers can argue that it is “substantially equivalent” to a previously approved device, referred to as a “predicate.” DePuy managed to gain clearance for Pinnacle to by citing a previous metal-on-metal hip implant as a predicate.
The lawsuit alleges that if the Defendants had properly tested the Pinnacle to begin with, then complications such as metallosis, biological toxicity and an early and high failure rate would have been apparent. The suit also claims that the cobalt and chromium ions that accumulate in patients can lead to metallosis, pseudotumors and other serious conditions. The lawsuit alleges that the Pinnacle has problems similar to the DePuy ASR hip implant, which was recalled in August 2010 after data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales revealed a failure rate of 13 percent (1 in every 8 patients) in five years. According to the complaint, over 1,300 Pinnacle-linked adverse events have been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). [depuy.com/asr-hip-replacement-recall]
Since DePuy’s global recall, metal-on-metal hips have come under greater
scrutiny. In February, the British Medical Journal published an exposé that
criticized manufacturers and regulators for potentially exposing hundreds of
thousands of metal hip recipients to dangerous complications. The Lancet
followed next month, with a study demonstrating a failure rate of 6 percent in
five years among metal-on-metal hip patients. The authors concluded that the
devices should no longer be used. The suspected harmful effects associated with
metallic debris were strengthened last month, when the Journal of Arthroplasty
found that adverse local tissue reactions increased significantly with corrosion
at the head-taper junction.
The most recent study, published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, discovered pseudotumors in nearly 40 percent of metal-on-metal hip recipients. Metal particles were again linked to adverse effects in this study, as the incidence of pseudotumors increased fourfold when serum cobalt levels exceeded five micrograms per liter. [bjj.boneandjoint.org.uk/content/94-B/6/755.abstract]
The effects associated with metal-on-metal hips have certainly not gone
unnoticed by regulators. In late February, Europe’s Medicines and Healthcare
products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued updated guidelines for the devices,
advising doctors to perform blood ion tests, ultrasound, magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) and Metal Artefact Reduction Sequence (MARS) as needed. Last May,
the FDA asked 21 manufacturers to study the effects of metal-on-metal implants
on patient health. On June 27 and 28, 2012 the agency’s Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation and Devices Panel will meet to discuss the pros and cons of all-metal hips. [http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/MetalonMetalHipImplants/ucm241604.htm
Parker Waichman LLP continues to offer free legal consultations to victims of DePuy Pinnacle and other metal-on-metal hip implant injuries. If you or a loved one experienced premature failure of your implant or other health problems associated with a DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant or other metal-on-metal hip implant, please contact their office by visiting the firm’s DePuy hip implant injury page at http://www.yourlawyer.com. Free case evaluations are also available by calling 1.800.LAW.INFO (1.800.529.4636).
For more information regarding defective hip implant lawsuits and Parker Waichman LLP, please visit: http://www.yourlawyer.com or call 1.800.LAW.INFO (1.800.529.4636).
Parker Waichman LLP
Gary Falkowitz, Managing Attorney
Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 06.13.12
Chief Judge Jack Alsop appeared in Gilmer County at 1:00 PM on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 and heard 3 juvenile cases which were then reset for Monday, August 13, 2012 at 10:15, 10:30 and 10:45 AM.
Gilmer County Circuit Court Report - 06.01.12
On Thursday, May 31, 2012 Chief Judge Jack Alsop heard 6 cases in Gilmer County.
• Two juvenile matters were heard and set for further review on Monday, July 09, 2012 at 10:00 and 10:45 AM.
• State of West Virginia vs. Joshua Hoover
He was before the Court for pleas in 2 felony cases currently pending against him.
He was represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton and pled to count 3 of petit larceny in one case and to count 1 of forgery, count 4 of uttering and count 7 for conspiracy in a second case.
The prosecuting attorney agreed to dismiss all remaining counts against him in the 2 felony cases.
Sentencing is set for Monday, July 09, 2012 at 10:15 AM.
• State of West Virginia vs. Shane Posey
He was before the Court and was represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway, who argued several motions.
One motion was denied in part and dismissed in part, while yet another was taken under advisement by the Judge.
His trial is set for Tuesday, June 26, 2012.
• State of West Virginia vs. Jerry Duelley II
He was before the Court for final hearing on motion to revoke his home confinement.
He was also represented by Dan Grindo who informed the Court of a good job offer defendant has received.
Judge Alsop agreed to let him apply for and train for the job and upon confirmation that he is hired, he will be released and the remainder of his sentence suspended for time served.
• State of West Virginia vs. Thomas Bonnell Jr.
He pled to 2 counts of his indictment with the prosecutor agreeing to dismiss the remainder of the counts.
Bonnell was represented by Kevin Duffy of Clay, and upon defendant requesting that the presentence investigation be dispensed with and asking the Judge to sentence him immediately.
Judge Alsop sentenced him to 6 months in Central Regional Jail for possession of a controlled substance (more than 15 grams) and 1-3 years in the penitentiary upon his plea to 3rd offense driving suspended for prior DUI.
Said sentence will run consecutively with the Central Regional Jail sentence being served before he goes to the penitentiary and he was fined $5,000.00.
Judge Richard A. Facemire appeared in Gilmer County on Friday, June 01, 2012 in the morning.
• He heard 3 juvenile matters which were rescheduled for Monday, August 27, 2012 at 10:00, 10:00 and 10:10 AM.
Also on Friday, June 01, 2012 Chief Judge Alsop appeared in the afternoon and heard 5 criminal matters as follows:
• State of West Virginia vs. John Carder
He was before the Court and several motions were heard and denied.
One was taken under advisement.
Carder is represented by James Hawkins of Clarksburg.
• State of West Vieginia vs. Patrick Collins
He entered a plea of guilty to failure to register as a sex offender.
He was represented by Kevin Duffy of Clay and will be sentenced on Monday, July 09, 2012 at 11:00 AM.
• State of West Virginia vs. Timothy Furr
He saw his motions denied, including motion for reduction of bond, which still remains at $100,000.00 plus home confinement if he is released.
His trial is now set for Tuesday, June 26, 2012 and he is represented by Drannon Adkins of Sissonville.
• State of West Virginia vs. Gary Ferrell
He asked for a new court appointed counsel.
Garth Beck was relieved as counsel and Daniel Armstrong of Gassaway was appointed to further represent.
Ferrell and his trial was continued to the July term to allow the new attorney to prepare his case.
• State of West Virginia vs. Tonya Ramsey
She asked for a new court appointed counsel as well.
Kevin Duffy was relieved and Christina Flanigan of Buckhannon was appointed to further represent Ramsey whose case was also continued to the July term.
Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 05.29.12
On Tuesday, May 29, 2012, Judge Richard A. Facemire presided over his regular monthly motion day in Gilmer County.
• One fugitive from justice waived extradition back to Connecticut and authorities there have until 4:00 PM on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 to pick up Sean Allicock from Central Regional Jail or he will be released from custody.
He was represented by Clinton Bischoff of Summersville.
• State of West Virginia vs. Shanna Johnson
She was before the Court for sentencing after being released from Anthony Center earlier this month after successfully completing the program there as her sentence in Braxton County.
Thus Judge Facemire sentenced her to 1-10 for uttering and 1-10 for forgery pleas she previously entered in Gilmer County.
He suspended both sentences and placed her on 5 years’ probation.
She was represented by Bischoff and must pay court costs within 18 months.
Several juveniles were heard and reset as follows:
• Monday, August 27, 2012 at 9:30 AM, 9:40 AM, 9:50 AM.
• Another for hearing on Tuesday, July 03, 2012 at 9:00 AM.
• Two other juveniles will be heard Monday, June 25, 2012 at 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM.
• Another will be heard Friday, June 01, 2012 at 9:00 AM and the last one will be dismissed in July.
• The civil matter Frame vs. Frame was cancelled prior to hearing because the Judge entered an order relating to the matter.
• Another civil case was completed after a default judgment order was entered by Judge Facemire.
Chief Judge Jack Alsop will appear in Gilmer County on Thursday, May 31, 2012 and again on Friday, June 01, 2012 in the afternoon.
Judge Facemire will return on Friday, June 01, 2012 in the morning for 3 juvenile matters.
Gilmer County Family Court Report – 05.25.12
• One divorce was granted on Friday, May 25, 2012 between Tina Godfrey (38) of Glenville, WV vs. Steven Godfrey (39) of Sand Fork, WV.
West Virginia Campaign Finance Limits Challenged in Court
A political group formed to aid West Virginia incumbents this November won a partial victory Thursday after suing over the state’s limits on campaign contributions and a policy addressing corporate spending.
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a target of the U.S. District Court lawsuit as West Virginia’s elections chief, agreed Thursday that the corporate policy is outdated and invalid. The policy is found in her office’s handbook for candidates.
The group, Stay the Course West Virginia, invoked the reason why in its federal challenge: the landmark 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United that allowed unlimited direct spending by corporations and unions on elections, and the resulting change in state law.
“The Secretary of State regrets any misstatement in the handbook and immediately will correct the error,“ spokesman Jake Glance said in a statement Thursday. “Obviously when the code conflicts with the handbook, the code prevails. A lawsuit was not required to bring the error to the attention of the Secretary of State.“
Glance said that regulations meant to provide detail to state law also must be updated to reflect the 2010 change. He cited how Citizens United and other recent court cases have triggered rapid and ongoing changes to campaign finance rules.
Stay the Course also is challenging the $1,000-per-election cap on political contributions to non-federal candidates in West Virginia. Its lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Bluefield, argues that the cap violates the 1st Amendment right to free speech found in the U.S. Constitution.
A lawyer for the group, Allen Prunty, said that Tennant has done nothing wrong in administering current law but that the lawsuit seeks to bring those rules in line with what governs federal campaigns.
“West Virginia election laws are outmoded and inconsistent with recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court and other federal courts,“ Prunty said Thursday. “These court decisions have defined robust rights of political participation which West Virginia law unconstitutionally limits.“
Stay the Course West Virginia brought the case along with Thomas Stephen Bailey, listed as a Kanawha County resident who wants to give $1,200 to the group, and Pineville Lumber, a corporation that wants to contribute $5,000. David Bailey of St. Albans is also a plaintiff, as the group’s chairman and president.
Prunty described the group Thursday as an unaffiliated independent expenditure political action committee. Court filings show Stay the Course registered last month both with Tennant’s office as a PAC and with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a “527” group, referring to the relevant section the tax code. The group will disclose its contributions as required by each agency, David Bailey said in a signed statement filed with the lawsuit.
Stay the Court aims “to support one or more incumbent West Virginia state government officeholders who have contributed to improving the West Virginia business climate and strengthening the West Virginia economy,“ Bailey’s statement said. He cites the state’s government finances as being in good shape, and the unemployment rate remaining below the national average, and said the group also will oppose those challenging its favored incumbents.
Pineville Lumber’s president, Everett Hannah, and his wife each gave $1,000 to the campaign of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in April. Both also contributed to the Democrat last year, when he narrowly won a special gubernatorial election to complete the term of now-U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. The veteran former legislator’s GOP opponent then and now, with the office up for a full four years, is Morgantown businessman Bill Maloney.
Hannah and his family members previously contributed to And For The Sake Of The Kids, a 527 group that spent more than $3.6 million in 2004 to unseat then-Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw, a Democrat, and elect current Justice Brent Benjamin, a Republican, in his place. That group was chiefly bankrolled by Don Blankenship, the since-retired chief executive of Massey Energy. Blankenship’s spending prompted a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that barred Benjamin from hearing any cases involving Massey. Maloney’s campaign for governor, both in 2011 and this year, feature several political operatives from And For The Sake Of The Kids.
Stay the Course’s lawsuit also names Mercer County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ash as a defendant, to represent the 55 county prosecutors because they pursue any election law violations.
G-otcha™: New York Man Sentenced for Selling Illegal Cigarette in Lewis County
A 23-year old Brooklyn, New York, resident was sentenced on May 22, 2012, in United States District Court in Elkins by Chief Judge John Preston Bailey.
United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that:
MOHAMMAD D. MOHAMMAD was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment to be followed by two years of supervised release and ordered to pay a fine of $5,000.
MOHAMMAD entered a plea of guilty on November 18, 2011, to one count of transporting and possessing contraband that is more than 10,000 cigarettes that bore no WV State tax, on March 29, 2011, in Lewis County, West Virginia.
MOHAMMAD, who is free on bond, will self-report to the designated Federal facility on June 28, 2012.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Zelda E. Wesley was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
G-otcha™: FCI-Gilmer Federal Inmate Enters Plea for Possession Marijuana
An FCI-Gilmer inmate entered a plea of guilty and was sentenced on May 22, 2012, in United States District Court in Clarksburg before Judge Irene M. Keeley.
United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that:
EUGENE HUNT, age 40, entered a plea of guilty to one count of possession marijuana on November 12, 2011, at FCI-Gilmer.
HUNT was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment to be served consecutively with his current 180-month sentence.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brandon S. Flower and were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Investigative Services at FCI-Gilmer.
Mother of Lewis County Missing Girl Going To Federal Prison
The mother of missing Lewis County three-year-old Aliayah Lunsford was sentenced Tuesday, May 22, 2012 in Elkins to eight months in federal prison.
Lena Lunsford, age 29, of Bendale, previously pleaded guilty to federal food stamp fraud.
She sold her food stamp card.
U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld says the eight-month prison term is at the high end of the federal sentencing guidelines.
He says U.S. District Judge John Bailey said anything less may not send the right message to Lunsford.
“Two months, which was the low end of the guideline range, would not be sufficient to cause Ms. Lunsford to learn to respect the law. So he felt the high end was more appropriate so he imposed that sentence,“ Ihlenfeld said.
Lunsford was caught by the FBI and State Police in a sting operation after they heard she may have been participating in illegal activity.
“It turns out she was and there was a controlled transaction that took place and it was recorded,“ Ihlenfeld said.
The money that changed hands was $114.
Ihlenfeld believes there’s more food stamp fraud in West Virginia than most people are aware of.
‘It’s important that we enforce that because ultimately it’s children that suffer,“ he said.
Ihlenfeld said again Tuesday the case is separate from the ongoing search for Lunsford’s daughter.
“The FBI continues to look into that, to receive information, to do their own investigation and will continue to do so,“ he said.
The young girl has been missing since last September.
Lena Lunsford will be on supervised release for one year after serving her eight-month sentence.
Pennsylvania Gas Driller Sues Doddridge County over Permit
A gas company is suing Doddridge County officials for revoking a flood plain permit after it spent $300,000 on the permitting process.
Pittsburgh-based EQT is seeking an injunction in circuit court so it can proceed with plans for 12 wells.
WDTV-TV reported that the permit was revoked after the county’s flood plain manager realized homes and livestock were vulnerable.
EQT said the county and the state Department of Environmental Protection granted permits, and the manager had no authority to revoke them.
The manager also sits on the County Commission.
Landowner Joye Huff called EQT’s actions rude, stubborn and intimidating.
Huff said the Federal Emergency Management Agency pointed out the potential problems and the flood plain manager had no choice but to withdraw the permit.
County commissioners declined comment.
Elkins: Lena Lunsford Sentencing Set For Tuesday 05.22.12
Sentencing for Lunsford is set for 2:30 PM Tuesday afternoon, May 22. 2012. in the U.S. Northern District Court of West Virginia for Lena Lunsford.
Lunsford, age 29, pleaded guilty in January to a single count of federal welfare fraud.
Lunsford had been charged with six counts of federal welfare fraud for selling her Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP card.
As part of the plea agreement five of those counts were dismissed.
Prosecutors say she sold $114 dollars’ worth of welfare benefits.
The welfare fraud came to light during the FBI’s investigation into the disappearance of her three-year-old daughter Aliayah.
Aliyah disappeared from her Lewis Count home in September and there has not been any sign of her since.
Authorities have had very few leads, no suspects, made no arrests and have refused to speculate as to what may have happened to the little girl.
Volunteer search efforts have continued, including Joe “The Bloodhound” Nick and Hunter Glass coming to West Virginia in effort to find the girl.
Lunsford is facing a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution.
Lunsford is currently free on bond.
Braxton County’s Grindo Has History Of Slow Response To Answering Ethics Complaints
The WV Record Reports:
The lack of urgency in responding to an ethics investigation, records show, is what led to Dan Grindo’s four admonishments.
Along with his lack of diligence in filing two appeals in 2010 and 2011 to the state Supreme Court, the Lawyer Disciplinary Board said four prior admonishments in 2008 and 2009 led it file the Feb. 21 statement of charges against him. In the four complaints filed against him between Jan. 11, 2008 and May 23, 2009, Grindo answered them only after he was served with a subpoena dues tecum.
The complaints were lodged by Linda M. Steen of Gassaway, Charles E. Ball of Sutton, Jesse A. Lynch, then an inmate at the Mt. Olive Correctional Complex near Smithers, and Robin L. Goodrich of Glenville. Steen’s and Goodrich’s complaint stem from allegations Grindo was slow in returning money due them while Ball and Lynch alleged he either failed to show or keep them informed of hearings in their respective cases.
After decided against pursing a right-of-way issue, Steen asked Grindo to refund her $1,000 retainer. When he failed to make good on his word to return it after several weeks, Steen lodged her complaint.
Records show, on Nov. 24, 2009, he sent Steen her money along with a written apology.
In her complaint, Goodrich alleged Grindo failed to timely send her a check for $3,750 she received from interests in real estate her ex-husband owned while they were married. Along with filing her ethics complaint, records show, Goodrich filed suit against Grindo in Gilmer Magistrate Court where she received default judgment against him on Oct. 14, 2008, initially for $4372.31 plus $95 in court costs.
After appealing the judgment to Gilmer Circuit Court, the pair on Nov. 21 agreed to settle the dispute with Goodrich keeping all but $517.31. The amount appears to be an unspecified medical bill Goodrich owed which, in his response to her complaint, Grindo said he felt he had an obligation to pay, and was thus the delay in getting the balance of her money to her.
Also, Grindo said in early 2008 “his attention was directed elsewhere,“ mostly on his campaign for prosecutor.
Grindo’s absence at a July 9, 2007, contempt hearing against the unnamed defendant in a property dispute involving Ball is what led Ball to file his complaint. After served with the subpoena, Grindo said he missed Ball’s hearing due to a hearing in Webster County running longer than expected.
Though he contacted the judge’s office to inform him of the delay, Grindo said the judge already denied the contempt petition. Though they later agreed to proceed to a hearing before a special commissioner involving the property, Ball later cancelled the hearing.
Records show, along with filing his ethics complaint, Ball filed suit against Grindo which was later settled on an unspecified date.
According to his complaint, Lynch says Grindo was appointed to represent him in an unspecified criminal matter in June 2008. He alleged Grindo not only failed to inform him of a hearing, but also did not respond to multiple requests for documents.
Also, Lynch said Grindo placed “a block on his phone to prevent him from calling his office collect from the prison.“
In responding to Lynch’s complaint, Grindo said he attempted to get the details of the documents Lynch wanted by discussing them with him at the prison. However, he says Lynch refused to meet with him.
According to Grindo, he later withdrew from the case.
In closing all the complaints on Dec. 16, 2009, Stephen Jory, chairman of the Board’s investigative panel, noted that Grindo “profusely apologized for his failure to respond to his client’s complaint and indicated that he had made significant changes to his law practice to ensure against the same from occurring in the future.“ Nevertheless, he was “warned that in the future, his failure to respond to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel’s request for information, will lead this Board to seek a more severe sanction with the [Court].“
~~ Lawrence Smith - WV Record ~~
Braxton Attorney Accused of Lacking Urgency In Filing Appeals
The WV Record Reports:
A Braxton County attorney faces disciplinary charges he failed to timely file appeals of two domestic-related cases to the state Supreme Court.
The Lawyer Disciplinary Board filed a two-count statement of charges against Dan Grindo on Feb. 21. In its statement, the Board, the arm of the Court that prosecutes attorney misconduct, alleges Grindo, 34, a sole practitioner in Gassaway, committed five violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct when he first, had to be prodded to file one man’s appeal for modification for child support, and parenting time and then, missed the deadline to file an appeal of another man’s termination of parental rights.
A statement of charges acts like an indictment for disciplinary purposes.
Nine Months Late
According to the statement, Grindo on Aug. 24, 2009, filed a petition for appeal to the Court challenging a decision rendered by Braxton Family Law Judge Robert Reed Sowa denying a petition for Grindo’s client, Jeffrey E. Skidmore, to have more time with his son. In addition to denying Skidmore’s petition, Sowa granted an expedited petition filed by the boy’s mother, Crystal L. Rogers, for an uptick in child support.
Grindo filed his petition for appeal after Braxton Circuit Judge Richard Facemire affirmed Sowa’s rulings.
According to the statement, the Court on Oct. 29 agreed to hear Skidmore’s appeal. The Court on Dec. 21 set a scheduling order in which Grindo was informed he would need to file his brief within 30 days of receiving the order.
When it was not received by March 2010, the Clerk’s Office contacted Grindo about it. He said it would be submitted the next day.
However, by June 8, it hadn’t. The Clerk’s Office, in a letter dated that day, notified Grindo he had another 20 days to file his brief.
When he, again, failed to do so, the Court on Sept. 9 imposed sanctions on him. However, it gave him another 15 days to file his brief.
According to the statement, Grindo did file it on Oct. 4, 2010. A week later in response to a complaint the Court initiated with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Grindo said because “he was handling the matter on a pro bono basis…admitted that he failed to adhere to the Court’s briefing schedule.“
Last April, in an opinion written by Justice Margaret A. Workman, the Court upheld Sowa’s ruling on Skidmore paying more in child support, but reversed his ruling on denying Skidmore more parenting time.
Another Never Filed
Two months after the Court’s ruling in the Skidmore case, Grindo filed a notice of appeal in an abuse and neglect case involving Joseph Dobbins. According to court records, Facemire on May 17, 2011, granted a petition filed nearly a year earlier by the state Department of Health and Human Resources to terminate the parental rights of both Dobbins, and Thomasina Bennett, the mother of Dobbins’s son, Walker.
DHHR petitioned to terminate their parental rights on the grounds Bennett had two other children removed from her care in Upshur and Harrison counties, and Dobbins was “in need of a substantially lengthy rehabilitation program to treat his sexual abuse history.“ Also, DHHR said Bennett and Dobbins “did little to remedy the situation and did follow through with a reasonable family case plan” after given a six-month improvement period.
In his notice, Grindo disputed that. Dobbins, Grindo said, “was making appropriate progress during the improvement period and that the lower court improperly terminated parental rights in the face of that progress.“
According to the statement, the Court issued a briefing schedule on June 21. In it, the Court gave Grindo a month to file his brief so the appeal could be perfected.
Though he filed an appendix on July 29, Grindo failed to file the petition. In response to multiple calls from the Clerk’s Office, Grindo said “he would promptly file the brief.“
When he failed to file one by Aug. 26, DHHR filed a motion to dismiss the case. Records show, the Court granted it on Sept. 8.
Six days later, the Court again lodged a complaint against Grindo with ODC. In his reply dated Oct. 13, Grindo “again acknowledged that he failed to either file a motion to withdraw or otherwise comply with the Order of Court directing him to perfect the appeal he filed on his client’s behalf.“
The statement accuses Grindo of violating Rules dealing with diligence, expediting litigation and fairness to opposing party and counsel. The Board opted to issue the statement against Grindo based on several aggravating factors including four prior admonishments it gave him between 2008 and 2009.
An evidentiary hearing on the statement is scheduled for Thursday, May 24 at the Flatwoods Days Inn.
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals case numbers 12-0228 (Grindo statement of charges), 35291 (Skidmore appeal) and 11-0931 (Dobbins appeal)
~~ Lawrence Smith - WV Record ~~
Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 05.14.12
Monday, May 14, 2012 motion day for Chief Judge Jack Alsop was completed by Noon.
Four fugitives from justice waived extradition back to their respective states:
• Authorities in Virginia must pick up Charles Nowlin Jr. and Phillip Harvey by 4:00 PM on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 or Central Regional Jail will release each of them.
• Authorities in Indiana must pick up Eudell Dickerson Jr. by 4:00 PM on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 or Central Regional Jail will release him.
• Authorities in Pennsylvania must pick up James Hogan by 4:00 PM on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 or Central Regional Jail will release him.
All 4 were represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton.
• Judge Alsop performed a wedding between Brandi Burkhamer and Jason Smith.
• State of West Virginia vs. Jerry Blackwell
He was sentenced to 5-years’ probation and must perform 80 hours of community service per year of probation.
He also must pay court costs and court appointed attorney fees.
He was represented by David Karickhoff.
• State of West Virginia vs. Karen Burns
She was sentenced to not less than 1 nor more than 5 years for child neglect creating risk of injury and not less than 1 nor more than 15 years in the penitentiary for possession with intent to deliver crack cocaine.
She will be given credit for time served and the sentences will run consecutively.
She was represented by Kevin Duffy of Clay, WV.
• State of West Virginia vs. Bonnie Riddle
She was before the Court asking to be released from home confinement and to be placed on probation.
Judge Alsop placed her on 18 months Court ordered parole and directed that she pay court costs and court appointed attorney fees.
She was represented by Keisha May of Charleston.
• Citibank, NA vs. Robert Spencer
He was before the Court for status hearing.
A pre-trial was scheduled for Monday, November 26, 2012 at 1:00 PM with bench trial set for Tuesday, December 04, 2012 at 9:00 AM.
Plaintiff’s attorney is Andrew Frye III and defendant is represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway.
• State of West Virginia vs. Jordan Sheldon
He did not appear for his expungement hearing and Judge Alsop dismissed the case without prejudice.
Nicholas James also failed to appear as his attorney.
• State of West Virginia vs. Matthew Capelety
He was before the Court for sentencing represented by Christopher Moffatt of Charleston.
He asked for probation or home confinement, both of which were denied.
He was sentenced to 1-5 in the penitentiary to run consecutive to his Lewis County sentence which he is currently serving.
Two name changes were before the Court:
Judge Alsop granted the name change of Britney Butler to Nickeson and took the other name change under advisement.
• Civil Case: Michael & Rachel Langford vs. Patrick Bush, et al
The case was before the Court to hear several motions and Judge Alsop stayed further action in this case until the West Virginia Supreme Court rules on the Mason County certified question submitted to them involving State Farm.
Within 30 days of the ruling by the Supreme Court the plaintiffs’ attorney (Brent Kesner) must set this matter for status hearing.
State Farm (also a party defendant in this case) was represented by R. Carder Elkins.
• One juvenile case was heard and reset for Monday, July 09, 2012 at 9:45 AM.
• Another one was set for pretrial on Monday, August 13, 2012 at 9:15 AM with jury trial to follow on Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 9:00 AM.
• A final civil case was not heard because an agreed order had been entered relieving F. John Oshoway from representing a party.
The remainder of the week Judge Alsop will be attending a judicial conference at Pipestem and will be unavailable for hearings.
G-otcha™: Gilmer Federal Inmate Enters Plea and Is Sentenced in Federal Court
An FCI Gilmer inmate entered a plea of guilty and was sentenced on May 11, 2012, in United States District Court in Clarksburg before Judge Irene M. Keeley.
MICHAEL CHEATOM, age 32, entered a plea of guilty to one count of possession marijuana on August 21, 2011, at FCI Gilmer.
CHEATOM was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment to be served consecutively with his current 90-month sentence.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brandon S. Flower and were investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Special Investigative Services at FCI Gilmer.
Advocate for Smaller Schools Says West Virginia Needs a New Educational Philosophy
An advocate for small community schools says, 30 years later, it should be clear the Recht decision has not worked for the benefit of West Virginia’s students.
Challenge West Virginia Executive Director Thomas Ramey says the ruling, issued in May 1982, was supposed to help students in the state’s poorest, most rural areas.
“The education systems in those counties and the education those children in those counties receive has not improved. In many cases, it’s gotten worse,“ Ramey said on Monday’s MetroNews Talkline.
In the landmark decision in the case of Pauley v. Bailey out of Lincoln County, Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur Recht helped change education in West Virginia when he ruled the state’s school funding system violated the Constitution and did not create a “thorough and efficient” education system.
As part of that decision, Recht ordered an overhaul to equalize the system, an order that lead to the creation of the state School Building Authority.
Now, twice a year, members of the SBA determine how the millions of dollars available for school construction and maintenance projects in West Virginia are spent.
Ramey says, over the years, the SBA has favored consolidations.
Since 1990, he says 350 schools in West Virginia have closed because of those consolidations, creating long bus rides for some students who no longer attend school in their communities.
SBA officials, though, say consolidations have led to better facilities and create more educational opportunities for students.
At the same time, they say they are helping with local projects that may not have adequate funding without the SBA.
Ramey does not agree.
He says West Virginia needs a new education philosophy.
“I actually think that children, low income children and children in rural areas, have just as much as a difficult time succeeding today than they did prior to the Recht decision,“ he said.
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