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WV Record Reports on Gilmer Lawsuit – 01.12.12

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The WV Record Reports:


Reporter files suit to compel release of dispute between Gilmer Clerk, Va. Bank

1/12/2012 9:57 AM By Chris Dickerson -Kanawha Bureau

GLENVILLE - A freelance journalist is suing Gilmer County officials for failing to respond to his repeated requests for information about details in a lawsuit settlement involving a housing project with ties to Glenville State College.

Gilmer County Clerk Jean Butcher and the Gilmer County Commission are named as co-defendants in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Jay Lawrence Smith.

In his complaint filed Dec. 23 in Gilmer Circuit Court, Smith, a regular contributor to The West Virginia Record, is asking a judge to compel release of details in the settlement reached late last year in a suit Winchester, Va.-based Summit Community Bank brought against the clerk’s office alleging an improperly recorded lien caused them to be an unnecessary defendant in a breach of contract suit.

According to his suit, Smith learned a tentative settlement was reached between Summit and the clerk’s office on Oct. 11. A year before, Summit filed a third-party complaint alleging they were improperly sued in March 2010 by Textron Financial Corporation in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg over disputed property in the Rivers’ View subdivision along W.Va. 5 near the medium security federal prison outside Glenville.

In its suit, Summit said had it not been for a defective Uniform Commercial Code fixture filing recorded by the clerk’s office, they wouldn’t be involved in Textron’s suit. Specifically, they alleged the clerk’s office did not follow state law by recording New Horizon as a co-debtor on the fixture filing along with Jack Jones, its president.

In its complaint, Textron, a Providence, R.I.-based commercial financing firm, alleged New Horizon, an Athens, W.Va.-based modular home dealer, defaulted on paying them for property they helped New Horizon acquire in Rivers’ View in 2005 when New Horizon, three years later, sought permanent financing from Summit’s branch in Moorefield. Textron sought judgment against New Horizon, Summit and Gilmer Housing Partners for $270,166.77, the proceeds from the sale of the initial two lots, and two other lots they helped New Horizon finance.

Records show GHP was the original owner of the properties. According to the Secretary of State’s Office, it is a for-profit corporation whose address is One Pioneer Way in Glenville, the home of Glenville State President Peter B. Barr, GHP’s sole incorporator and manager.

GHP was dismissed as a co-defendant in Textron’s suit on March 30, 2011. Two weeks before that, Judge Frederick M. Stamp granted Textron’s motion for summary judgment finding it was the superior lienholder on at least one of the properties in question, and ordered New Horizon to pay the entire judgment plus interest.

Upon learning of the settlement between Summit and the clerk’s office, Smith called Summit’s attorney, Edward McDevitt, for the details. When contacted, McDevitt told Smith “‘You’ll need to speak to their attorney about that.‘“

Shortly thereafter, Smith called Wendy Greve, the clerk’s attorney, about the terms of the settlement. When he was unable to speak with her, he left a voice-message requesting information about it.

The next day, Smith sent a FOIA request to Butcher. In his request, Smith requested, among other things, what the county paid Summit to settle the suit, and what it paid Greve to defend the clerk’s office.

According to his suit, Smith sent the FOIA request to both Butcher, and the Commission via e-mail, fax and U.S. Mail.

When Smith failed to receive a reply from Butcher within the statutory five days, he sent a second FOIA request dated Oct. 22. Again, it was sent to Butcher, and the Commission via e-mail, fax and U.S. Mail.

When Smith again failed to receive a reply to his second request within another five days, he sent a third FOIA request dated Nov. 11. The request not only was sent to Butcher, and the Commission via e-mail, fax and U.S. Mail, but also warned that if a reply was not received by Nov. 16, Smith would file suit to compel release of the settlement in circuit court.

According to his suit, Smith made repeated phone calls to Greve, including the day before he filed it, “seeking the terms of the settlement.“ However, “[a]ll the calls he made to Greve were routed to voice-mail, and never returned.“

Along with an order compelling release of the settlement between Summit, and the clerk’s office, Smith seeks a permanent injunction requiring Butcher and the Commission “to undergo training for better understanding of [the FOIA law], and implement a plan for more timely responses to FOIA requests.“

Smith is representing himself. The case is assigned to Judge Richard A. Facemire.

Second suit in a week

The suit is the second FOIA lawsuit Smith filed the week before Christmas against county officials. On Dec. 19, Smith filed suit in Cabell Circuit Court against Karen Cole, and the Cabell County Commission seeking release of the death certificate of a woman who died at the hands of a former Mason County physician.

In that suit, Smith alleged Cole has prevented the public from learning about the details of a wrongful death suit the estate of Helen Ziegler filed against Dr. Jack M. Levine in 2000 due to Cole’s misinterpretation of a 2006 revision to the state code on vital statistics. Despite informing her how he was able to access death records in Mason, Jackson, Putnam, Marion, Wood and Kanawha counties, Cole continued to deny Smith access to Ziegler’s death certificate citing the law, and accusing the other clerks of improperly providing access to death records in their counties.

Similar to his suit against Butcher, and the Gilmer Commission, Smith asked for not only a court order compelling Cole and the Cabell Commission to release the Ziegler death certificate, but also undergo training for better understanding of the FOIA law, and implementation of a plan for better responses to FOIA requests.

Since the filing of his suit in Cabell County, Cole and the Commission, through their attorney William T. Watson, asked they be dismissed since the law is on their side, and they recover court costs, and Watson’s fees.

Gilmer Circuit Court case number 11-C-29

Gilmer Commission Advised by Prosecutor to Settle with, then Sue Reporter over FOIA Lawsuit

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The Gilmer County Commission is planning on settling a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against them last month by a Charleston reporter, then bring one of their own against him for filing it.

During its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, January 10, 2012, the Gilmer County Prosecutor Gerry Hough briefly discussed the FOIA lawsuit Lawrence J. Smith, a reporter with The West Virginia Record, filed against the commission, and County Clerk Jean Butcher on December 23, 2011.

In his suit, Smith asked Judge Richard Facemire to compel Butcher and the commission to release details of the settlement reached in October in the lawsuit Summit Bank filed against Gilmer County Clerk (Beverly Marks) for improperly recording lien information for properties in the Rivers’ View subdivision.

The subject of Smith’s lawsuit, while not on the agenda, was broached by County Prosecuting Attorney Gerry Hough, who was on the agenda to present a check for back taxes from Union Corp.

Neither the commission nor Butcher responded to Smith’s request for the settlement details prior to filing his lawsuit as they did not have it, Hough said.  However, now that they do, he asked the commission’s permission to send it to him in exchange for him agreeing to dismiss his suit.

All three commissioners, President Brian Kennedy, David Hess, and Darrell Ramsey said nothing, but nodded their heads in agreement.

Also, the commissioners gave their approval to Hough filing a lawsuit against Smith after he agrees to dismiss his FOIA suit.  The suit, Hough said, would be to teach him a lesson about filing what he deemed to be a “frivolous” lawsuit.

“It is necessary to do this because we cannot allow the press to make the county look bad,“ Hough said.

The commissioners again only nodded their heads in agreement.

Then the commissioners entered into executive session with Gerry Hough.

After that, Hough left the meeting.  Prior to him leaving, nothing was disclosed about how much the county paid to settle the Summit Bank lawsuit.

G-otcha™: Weston Resident Sentenced for Attempted Transfer of Obscenity to a Minor

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A Weston, West Virginia, resident was sentenced on January 06, 2012, in United States District Court in Clarksburg by Judge Irene M. Keeley.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that:


•  ADAM EDWARDS was sentenced to 33 months imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release.

EDWARDS entered a plea of guilty on September 19, 2011, to attempting to transfer obscenity to a minor in Bridgeport, West Virginia, on November 22, 2010.

EDWARDS was remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal pending designation to a Federal institution.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney David J. Perri and was investigated by the Bridgeport Police Department.

Federal Court’s Three-Judge Panel Denies Stay for Congressional Maps

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A federal three-judge panel has denied state leaders’ request for a stay on a ruling that declares the state’s new congressional districts unconstitutional.

However, the panel lifted a January 17, 2012 deadline for the Legislature to pass new maps.

To Read the order click H E R E

That means lawmakers will have to come up with new congressional districts in time for the May 08, 2012 primary.

Leaders in the state House and Senate have indicated they plan to appeal the lower court’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“(The order) goes on to basically suggest that we go forward with our appeal,“ said state Sen. President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall.  “If we go forward with our appeal to the Supreme Court and they grant the appeal, then obviously their order will be mooted.“

Kessler, along with House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin are among those who say redistricting is a legislative priority and should not be left up to the courts.

Kessler says he is confident the maps will be upheld.

“I think there is a significant likelihood the Supreme Court will grant our appeal, based on prior precedent,“ Kessler said. 

However, if the Supreme Court denies the appeal, new maps will have to be put in place prior to the May 08, 2012 primary election.

 The federal panel originally said it would impose a map itself if the Legislature failed to develop its own map.

While the appeal goes forward, lawmakers will work to create alternative maps, Kessler said.

“We are trying to have all our bases covered,“ Kessler said.  “As we go forward with the appeal if we are not successful we want to be ready to immediately implement a new plan.“

Kessler also says regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, he wants to reduce the variance between the largest district and smallest district.

The variance is currently more than 4,000 residents.  

The Jefferson County Commission originally filed the lawsuit, claiming the congressional districts did not uphold the principle of one person, one vote.  South Charleston attorney Thornton Cooper later joined the case.

Weston Resident, Lunsford, Enters Plea to Food Stamp Fraud

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A 29 year old Weston, West Virginia, resident entered a plea of guilty on January 10, 2012, in United States District Court in Elkins before Magistrate Judge John S. Kaull.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that: LENA LUNSFORD, entered a plea of guilty to one count of knowingly selling portions of her SNAP benefits valued in an amount in excess of $100.00.

On October 15, 2011, LUNSFORD knowingly used any food benefits in a manner contrary to law in that she used and caused to be used an EBT card, also known as Mountain State card, to acquire Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits valued in the amount of $114.82 in exchange for $50 in cash paid to LUNSFORD by another individual.

Ihlenfeld stated, “The United States Department of Agriculture - Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS) administers Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, via the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services (WVDHHR) in the Northern District of West Virginia, in order to provide a more nutritious diet to low income families and individuals. Maintaining the integrity of this program is vital to ensuring the availability of SNAP benefits to the most vulnerable members of our society. I remain committed to prosecuting those who abuse the program for their own financial gain to the detriment of the poor who rely on the food it provides.”

LUNSFORD, who is free on bond pending sentencing, faces a maximum exposure of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn A. Morgan and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the West Virginia State Police- Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

Gilmer County Family Court Report – 01.04.12

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On Wednesday, January 04, 2012 special Family Court Judge Nibert presided over a full docket in Gilmer County.

She heard:

•  2 domestic violence cases

•  1 modification of child support case

•  1 contempt case was dismissed

•  1 contempt case was reset for Wednesday, April 04, 2012

•  Child support was established in two cases

•  More visitation was granted in another case

•  DNA testing was ordered in a paternity case

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 01.09.12

On Friday, January 06, 2012 Judge Richard A. Facemire presided over Court in Gilmer County until Noon.

•  Three (3) fugitives from justice waived extradition and all were represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway.

Imprisonment Status:  Pre-Trial Felon

Louis John Roselle

Full Name: Roselle,  Louis  John
Height: 6’  1”
Weight: 205 lbs.
Birth Date: 10.31.1983
Gender:

Male

Booking Date: 12.16.2011
Facility: Central Regional Jail
Imprisonment Status: Pre-Trial Felon

Offender Court Order Information

Court Info Number Issuing Agency Location
11E-41  GILMER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $0.00 

 

 

Imprisonment Status:  Pre-Trial Felon

James Timothy Easter

Full Name: Easter,  James  Timothy
Height: 5’  8”
Weight: 240 lbs.
Birth Date: 02.06.1970
Gender:

Male

Booking Date: 12.30.2011
Facility: Central Regional Jail
Imprisonment Status: Pre-Trial Felon

Offender Court Order Information

Court Info Number Issuing Agency Location
11E-35  GILMER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $0.00 

 

 

Imprisonment Status:  Pre-Trial Felon

Earl Wayne Pruitt

Full Name: Pruitt,  Earl  Wayne
Height: 5’  5”
Weight: 150 lbs.
Birth Date: 06.15.1963
Gender:

Male

Booking Date: 12.30.2011
Facility: Central Regional Jail
Imprisonment Status: Pre-Trial Felon

Offender Court Order Information

Court Info Number Issuing Agency Location
11E-36  GILMER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $0.00 


Louis Roselle and James Easter were wanted by the state of New Jersey and Earl Pruitt was wanted by the state of Kentucky.

Authorities in their states have until 4:00 PM Wednesday, January 18, 2012 to pick the defendants up or they will be released from Central Regional Jail.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Casey Nichole Cottrill

She was before the Court and represented by her attorney, Garth Beck of Clarksburg to have her case continued until the March term, but chose to enter a plea which will be heard on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 10:00 AM.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Amanda Smith

Imprisonment Status:  Pre-Trial Felon

Amanda Lorain Smith

Full Name: Smith,  Amanda  Lorain
Height: 5’  5”
Weight: 120 lbs.
Birth Date: 09.27.1985
Gender:

Female

Booking Date: 12.13.2011
Facility: Central Regional Jail
Imprisonment Status: Pre-Trial Felon


Offender Court Order Information

Court Info Number Issuing Agency Location
11F-121 - 123, 11F 118 - 120  GILMER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $30,000.00 


She will also enter a plea on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 10:15 AM.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Amy Lamarti

Imprisonment Status:  Pre-Trial Felon

Amy Marie Lamarti

Full Name: Lamarti,  Amy  Marie
Height: 5’  2”
Weight: 125 lbs.
Birth Date: 05.22.1975
Gender:

Female

Booking Date: 09.04.2011
Facility: Central Regional Jail
Imprisonment Status: Pre-Trial Felon

Offender Court Order Information

Court Info Number Issuing Agency Location
11F-79,80,81,82,83,84,11M286-287  GILMER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $250,000.00 


She pled guilty to count 1 of her indictment, charging her with manufacturing a Schedule II controlled substance.

Seven (7) other counts of her indictment were dismissed by Prosecutor Gerald Hough as part of the plea bargain agreement offered to her.

Lamarti was represented by Kevin Hughart of Sissonville, but Adkins from Hughart’s law firm appeared to represent her for her plea.

Sentencing will be on Monday, February 27, 2012 at 10:30 AM and Judge Facemire directed the probation officer, Tara Kennedy, to do a presentence investigation in the matter.


•  Some testimony was taken in a juvenile case and it was rescheduled for Wednesday, February 01, 2012 at 9:00 AM.

 

Chief Judge Jack Alsop presided over his motion day in Gilmer County on Monday, January 09, 2012.

•  Four reviews were heard in juvenile cases, with various attorneys appearing and participating, namely: Shelly DeMarino, Christopher Moffatt, Keisha May, Daniel Grindo, Christina Flanigan and Joyce Morton appeared by telephone.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Justin Wortham

Imprisonment Status:  Convicted Felon

Justin Allen Wortham

Full Name: Wortham,  Justin  Allen
Height: 6’  1”
Weight: 235 lbs.
Birth Date: 05.04.1985
Gender:

Male

Booking Date: 01.09.2012
Facility: Central Regional Jail
Imprisonment Status: Convicted Felon

Offender Court Order Information

Court Info Number Issuing Agency Location
09F-27  GILMER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $0.00 


He was before the Court for preliminary hearing in regard to a probation violation.

He was once again represented by Kevin Duffy of Clay.

Wortham admitted to smoking K2 (synthetic marijuana) while on probation and subsequently flunking a urine screen in 2011.

He stated he is now working 2 jobs and doing community service and paying on his court costs.

However, Judge Alsop revoked his probation and sent him to Central Regional Jail pending further hearing at 11:15 AM on Monday, February 13, 2012.


•  Judge Alsop affirmed his earlier decision in the Steve Dilworth case and the matter is still on appeal to the WV Supreme Court.


•  An infant settlement was agreed to in a civil case involving a car accident.

Shelly DeMarino was the guardian ad litem for said infant.


•  There will be no jury trial on Tuesday, January 10, 2012.

However, all jurors are to call the recording after 4:00 PM on Friday, January 13, 2012 regarding a scheduled jury trial for Tuesday, January 17, 2012.

•  The Court House will be closed on Monday, January 16, 2012 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

G-otcha™: Federal Grand Jury Indicts Five Individuals – 01.04.12

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Five individuals were named in four Indictments returned by a Federal Grand Jury sitting in Clarksburg, West Virginia, on January 04, 2012.

United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II, announced that:


•  HARVEY BREWER
Age 39, an inmate at FCI Gilmer and TASHA SHELEKA SAUNDERS, age 32, of Baltimore, Maryland,  were named in a one-count Indictment charging them with aiding and abetting the escape of BREWER from FCI Gilmer on August 28, 2010, where he was in confined at the direction of the Attorney General upon a conviction in the District of Maryland for the offense of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin.  If convicted, BREWER and SAUNDERS face a maximum exposure of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.  This case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brandon S. Flower and was investigated by the West Virginia State Police-Glenville detachment and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


•  JAMES RUSSELL CHEWNING
Age 45, of Buckhannon, West Virginia, was named in a three-count Indictment.  Counts One and Three charge CHEWNING with possession of a firearm in the Spring of 2010 and on August 28, 2010, in Upshur County, West Virginia, after having previously been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding on year.  Count Two charges CHEWNING with possession of a stolen firearm in the Spring of 2010.  If convicted, CHEWNING faces a maximum exposure of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on each count.


•  ERIC DEBERRY
Age 34, of Salem, West Virginia, was named in a two-count Indictment.  Count One charges DEBERRY with possession of a firearm on May 17, 2011, in Harrison Count, West Virginia, after having previously been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding on year.  Count Two charges DEBERRY with possession of a stolen firearm on May 17, 2011.  If convicted, DEBERRY faces a maximum exposure of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on each count.


These cases will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Zelda E. Wesley and were investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.


•  JORDAN MICHAEL DUNLAP
Age 27, of Clay, West Virginia, was named in a two-count Indictment charging DUNLAP with possession of stolen firearms on two separate occasions on September 30, 2011.  If convicted, DUNLAP faces a maximum exposure of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on each count.  This case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Zelda E. Wesley and was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

It should be noted that the charges contained in the above-referenced Indictments are merely accusations and not evidence of guilt, and that each defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

G-FYI™: Legal Action against Clerk and Gilmer County Commission for Withholding Information

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West Virginia’s Freedom of Information ACT (FOIA) was enacted to give citizens access to information to which they are entitled.

Elements of the act were detailed eloquently by Mr. Darrell McGraw, the Attorney General of West Virginia (Google WV FOIA).

The ACT’s purpose is to keep citizens fully informed to enable them to independently evaluate performances of our public institutions and its officials.

Gilmer County has a sordid history of willful withholding of information by its officials.

However, with emergence of the information age, veils of secrecy are beginning to unravel.

For a prime example, Mr. Lawrence Smith, an investigative reporter for the West Virginia Record known as West Virginia’s Legal Journal, initiated legal action to achieve disclosure of the County Commission’s settlement of a recent lawsuit.

The defendants in Mr. Smith’s court filing are Ms. Jean Butcher and the Gilmer County Commission.

The filing related to the aftermath of the River’s View housing project by the Gilmer Housing Partners, LLC for which Terry Butcher and Timothy Butcher, local attorneys, are key individuals.

After construction occurred at the site a lawsuit was filed in Federal Court. The allegation was that there was improper recording of lien information for the property.

The Commission as one of the defendants lost the case to come under a Federal order to pay a penalty, but details about the penalty were kept secret from citizens.

Mr. Smith requested information three times. After refusals to respond, he filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief with Judge Facemire to plea for disclosure of the information.

A copy of the filing and the third FOIA request are provided below.

In his third request, Mr. Smith stated that the penalty for noncompliance is “punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, 20 days in jail or both.”

Citizens await Judge Facemire’s important decision.

The issue is crucial for citizens because without full disclosure of essential information, accountability, the bulwark of our democracy, is impossible.

Accordingly, if corrective measures are not ordered by Judge Facemire to keep Gilmer County’s citizens informed,  checks and balances, particularly those exercisable in our voting booths, will remain stifled to allow business as usual to reign.

 

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Lawsuit filed on Friday, December 23, 2011

Click H E R E for actual copy of the Lawsuit


IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF GILMER COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA
Jay Lawrence Smith, an individual
Plaintiff,
                                                                                                                      Civil Action No. [11-C-29]
v.
                                                                                                                      Honorable [Richard A. Facemire], Judge
Jean Butcher, in her capacity as
Clerk of the Gilmer County Commission, and
The Gilmer County Commission, a political subdivision,
                                Defendants

COMPLAINT FOF DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

Now comes the Plaintiff, Jay Lawrence Smith, who states as follows:

 

PARTIES

        1. Jay Lawrence Smith (“Smith”) is a resident of Hurricane, Putnam County, West
Virginia.

        2. Smith is a free-lance legal researcher and journalist whose principal place of business is in South Charleston, Kanawha County, West Virginia.

        3. Defendant Jean Butcher (“Butcher”) is a resident of Gilmer County, West Virginia and was, at all times relevant hereto, the Clerk of the Gilmer County Commission.

        4. Defendant Gilmer County Commission (“the Commission”) is a political subdivision organized under the laws of the state of West Virginia with an address of 10 Howard St., Glenville, WV 26351.

        5. Though independently elected by popular vote, the Clerk is the custodian of all records held by the Commission including, but not limited to, deeds, deeds of trust, Uniform Commercial Code filings and UCC fixture filings.

        6. This Court has jurisdiction over this matter and over the parties.

        7. As the conduct complained of, and as more particularly set forth herein, occurred in
Gilmer County, this matter is properly venued with this Court.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

        8. Smith restates the allegations contained in Paragraphs 1-7

        9. On or about Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, Smith learned of a settlement in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia between the Defendants and Summit Community Bank (“Summit”), a foreign corporation located at 100 West Jubal Early Dr., Winchester, VA, 22601 (Case number ll-cv-39).

        10. After it was named as a co-defendant in a breach of contract suit hi the district court on March 10, 2010, Summit filed a third-party complaint against the Defendants on Oct. 25, 2010.
In its third-party complaint, Summit alleged defendants bore responsibility for it being named in the original complaint as the Clerk failed to properly record the names of both owners of at least one if not more parcels of property on a UCC fixture filing.

        11. Said property/properties was/were previously owned by Gilmer Housing Partners (“GHP”), a domestic corporation located at One Pioneer Drive, Glenville, WV, 26351, and sold to New Horizon Home Sales (“New Horizon”), a domestic corporation located at 3048 Hinton Rd., Athens, WV 26651, and its president, Jack Jones (“Jones”). Also, said property/properties is/are located in the River’s View subdivision along W. Va. Route 5 near the Otterbein United Methodist Church outside of Glenville.

        12. Upon learning of the settlement, Smith called Edward McDevitt (W. Va. Bar I.D. #2437) (“McDevitt”), counsel for Summit to inquire about the terms.

        13. When contacted, McDevitt said ‘“You’ll need to speak with their [Butcher and the Commission’s] attorney about that.‘“

        14. Upon concluding his call with McDevitt, Smith called Wendy Greve (W. Va. Bar I.D. # 6599) (“Greve”), counsel for Butcher and the Commission in the third-party complaint, about the terms of the settlement as instructed by McDevitt.  When he was unable to speak with Greve, Smith left her a voice-message requesting it.

        15. Out of an abundance of caution, the next day, Wednesday, Oct. 12, Smith sent a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request to Butcher.  In his request, Smith sought the following information:

            A. The terms of the settlement.

            B. The total payout made by the county either through its general revenue fund or a third party.

            C. The names of all third parties making said payments.

            D. The total payout made by either the county or any third parties to the lawyer(s) or law firm(s) representing the county (Attached as Exhibit “A”).

        16. The FOIA request was sent to Butcher and the Commission via e-mail, fax and U.S. Mail.

        17. When Smith failed to receive a reply from Butcher within the statutory five business days, Smith sent her a second FOIA request dated Oct. 22, 2011.  The request was again sent to Butcher and the Commission via e-mail, fax and U.S. Mail (Attached as Exhibit “B”).

        18. When Smith, once again, failed to receive a reply from Butcher within another five business days of his second FOIA request, he sent her a third request dated Nov. 11, 2011.  The third request was once again sent to Butcher and the Commission via e-mail, fax and U.S. Mail (Attached as Exhibit “C”).

        19. In his third FOIA request, Smith notified Butcher, and the Commission that if the information he requested was not forthcoming by Wednesday, Nov. 16, he would bring a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief before this Court.

        20. On multiple occasions following submission of all his FOIA requests, Smith attempted to avoid filing the instant suit by making repeated phone calls to Greve seeking the terms of the settlement.  All the calls he made to Greve were routed to voice-mail, and never returned.

        21. The failure of Butcher, the Commission and Greve to provide Smith the details of the settlement in Summit’s third-party complaint against the Defendants has prompted the instant suit.

ARGUMENTS

        22. Smith restates the allegations in paragraphs 1 -21.

        23. The West Virginia FOIA law, W. Va. Code 298-1-3(1), states: “Every person has a right to inspect or copy any public record of a public body in this State, except as otherwise expressly provided by section four [29B-1-4] of this article.“

        24. Defendants have not provided a reason under 29B-1 -4(1) as to why Smith cannot see the information first requested in his Oct. 12, 2011, FOIA.

        25. Instead, Defendants have wantonly, maliciously, deliberately and vexatiously failed to respond to any of Smith’s FOIA requests.

        26. Smith’s interest in this action outweighs any arguments for non-disclosure.
Moreover, the information requested is public information.

WHEREFORE, the Plaintiff prays that this Court:

        1. declare that the Defendant’s refusal to disclose the records requested by Smith is
unlawful;

        2. grant injunctive relief, enjoining Defendants from withholding records without justification and ordering production to Smith of records improperly withheld;

        3. grant a permanent injunction requiring the Defendants to undergo training for better understanding of W. Va. Code 29B, and implement a plan for more timely responses to FOIA responses;

        4. award Smith his costs and reasonable attorney fees incurred in this action, as required by W. Va. Code 29B-1-7; and

        5. grant Smith such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

Jay Lawrence Smith
Pro se

5312 MacCorkle Ave., S.W.
#238
South Charleston, WV 25309
(304) 397-6075

 

 

Exhibit “A”

Click H E R E for actual copy of the Exhibit A – First Request

 

12 October 2011

Jean Butcher, Clerk
Gilmer County Commission
10 Howard St. Glenville, WV 26351


Dear Ms. Butcher:

Pursuant to the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (W. Va. Code 29B-1-1, et. seq.), I request access to the following information:

            • All documents related to the settlement in the following lawsuit:

1. Summit Community Bank v. the Clerk of the Gilmer County Commission (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, case number 10-cv-39).
The documents shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

        1. The terms of the settlement.

        2. The total payout made by the county either through its general revenue fund or a third party.

        3. The names of all third parties making said payments.

        4. The total payout made by either the county or any third parties to the lawyer(s) or law firm(s) representing the county.

As required by the Act, I expect your response within five business days. Should you chose to deny all, or part, of this request, please cite the specific part of the Code for your denial.

Once this information is available, I can be contacted at the addresses or phone number below. I thank you, Ms. Butcher, for taking the time to respond to this request.

Sincerely,

Lawrence J. Smith


cc: Charles D. Hess, president, Gilmer County Commission Gerald Hough, Gilmer County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

5312 MacCorkle Ave., S.W.
#238
South Charleston, WV 25309

(304) 397-6075 (phone)
Sent via e-mail, U.S. Mail and fax

Exhibit “B”

Click H E R E for actual copy of the Exhibit B – Second Request

22 October 2011

Jean Butcher, Clerk
Gilmer County Commission
10 Howard St. Glenville, WV 26351


Dear Ms. Butcher:

Pursuant to the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (W. Va. Code 29B-1-1, et. seq.), I request access to the following information:

            • All documents related to the settlement in the following lawsuit:

        1.  Summit Community Bank v. the Clerk of the Gilmer County Commission (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, case number 10-cv-39).

The documents shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

        1. The terms of the settlement.

        2. The total payout made by the county either through its general revenue fund or a third party.

        3. The names of all third parties making said payments.

        4. The total payout made by either the county or any third parties to the lawyer(s) or law firm(s) representing the county.

This is a second request for information.

As required by the Act, I expect your response within five business days. Should you chose to deny all, or part, of this request, please cite the specific part of the Code for your denial.

Once this information is available, I can be contacted at the addresses or phone number below. I thank you, Ms. Butcher, for taking the time to respond to this request.

Sincerely,

Lawrence J. Smith


cc: Charles D. Hess, president, Gilmer County Commission Gerald Hough, Gilmer County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Wendy Greve, Esq., Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown and Poe, LLC


5312 MacCorkle Ave., S.W.
#238
South Charleston, WV 25309

(304) 397-6075 (phone)
Sent via e-mail, U.S. Mail and fax

 

 

Exhibit “C”

Click H E R E for actual copy of the Exhibit C – Third Request

11 November 2011

Jean Butcher, Clerk
Gilmer County Commission
10 Howard St. Glenville, WV 26351


Dear Ms. Butcher:

Pursuant to the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (W. Va. Code 29B-1-1, et. seq.), I request access to the following information:

            • All documents related to the settlement in the following lawsuit:

        1.  Summit Community Bank v. the Clerk of the Gilmer County Commission (U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, case number 10-cv-39).

The documents shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

        1. The terms of the settlement.

        2. The total payout made by the county either through its general revenue fund or a third party.

        3. The names of all third parties making said payments.

        4. The total payout made by either the county or any third parties to the lawyer(s) or law firm(s) representing the county.

This is a third, and final request for information. Please be aware willful failure to comply with the Act is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, 20 days in jail or both.

In order to avoid the county incurring additional liability, please provide the requested information no later than Wednesday, Nov. 16.

Once this information is available, it can be sent to me at the addresses below. I thank you, Ms. Butcher, for taking the time to respond to this request.


Sincerely,

Lawrence J. Smith


cc: Charles D. Hess, president, Gilmer County Commission Gerald Hough, Gilmer County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Wendy Greve, Esq., Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown and Poe, LLC Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin

Del. Tim Manchin, chairman, House Political Subdivisions Committee Del. Linda Sumner, minority vice-chairwoman, House Political Subdivisions Committee

Sen. Herb Snyder, chairman, Senate Government Organization Committee Sen. Donna Boley, minority vice-chairwoman, Senate Government Organization Committee Sen. Joseph M. Minard, Committee member


5312 MacCorkle Ave., S.W.
#238
South Charleston, WV 25309

Sent via e-mail, U.S. Mail and fax

G-otcha™: Doug Morris from Glenville Charged with DUI

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On Tuesday, December 13, 2011, The Gilmer County Sheriff Deputy Ben Huffman was dispatched to a single-vehicle Motor-Vehicle-Accident at approximately 5:00 AM on WV Highway 5 west, near Gilmer-Calhoun county line.

According to Gilmer County Sheriff Mickey Metz, he responded to the vehicle accident as well since he lives about 1.5 miles from the accident.

When Deputy Huffman arrived on the scene, he asked Sheriff Metz who was in the car accident. Sheriff Metz advised Deputy Huffman that he had not seen the driver, but the driver was at the residence just down from the accident.

Deputy Huffman went to the house and identified the driver as Douglas Shane Morris from Glenville, WV.

At this time The Gilmer County EMS was on scene helping Morris because he was complaining about his back hurting.

Shortly after, the victim was transported to Minnie Hamilton in Grantsville, WV to be treated for injuries.

The toxicology report request by Deputy Huffman which was sent to him on December 15, 2011 by Minnie Hamilton showed that Douglas Morris tested positive for THC, Benzodiazepine, Amphetamine, and Opiates.

A DUI charge was file in Gilmer County Magistrate Court by Sheriff Deputy Huffman against Morris on Monday, December 19, 2011.

The complaint notes: Any person who drives a vehicle in WV while he or she is under the influence of controlled substance is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, except as provided in section two-b of this article, shall be confined in jail for up to six months and shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars not more than five hundred dollars. Violation of W.Va State Code 17C-5-2(d)(B).

12.21.2011
CommunityGilmer CountyGlenvilleFeaturesG-otcha™NewsAccidentsArrestsCourthouse

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Braxton County Man Says WV Discriminated against Him

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A Braxton County man is suing the West Virginia Office of Technology after he claims he was discriminated against because of his age, race and gender.

Ali R. Dabiri is an employee of the state and is employed as a Database Administrator II (DBA II), according to a complaint filed December 01, 2011, in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Dabiri claims he is receiving pay at a pay level which is discriminatory against him based on his age, gender and national origin.

The defendant’s discrimination against Dabiri in his rate of pay on the basis of age, gender and national origin violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act, according to the suit.

Dabiri is seeking injunctive relief, including correction of his pay rate.

He is being represented by Walt Auvil.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-2136

~~  by Kyla Asbury – The WV Record  ~~

G-LtE™: Anatomy of a GILMER COUNTY CRIME – A HELLHOLE

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In this first document there is clear evidence that the THREE WOOD COUNTY bank accounts totaling over $125,000 recognized in the first accounting with one cd account worth $14,000 dollars were all cashed out by the executrix Rosa Belle Gainer against the express wished of Albert J Woofter.  As, soon as ALBERT J WOOFTER was dead with the unsigned Power of Attorney paper work on the night stand as they were taking his lifeless body away, Gainer liquidated all the accounts and put it into one bank account where R TERRY BUTCHER her employer had control of the day to day actions. The amount deposited was $73, 352.50.

SO, we have a paper trail that proves that $125,000 was cashed out of three accounts, and only $73,352.50 was deposited in the bank in Glenville where R Terry Butcher is on the board. Another conflict of interest.

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Evidence shows that there were three accounts with an excess of $125K and GAINER put it all in one account that the “Benny” only got seven thousand from after Gainer and the B& B Law firm pilfered the estate.

There was no accounting from 1994 until 31 Dec 2006 against WV LAW.  The Butcher and Butcher law firm broke the law and a call was placed to office of VANCE GOLDEN a commissioner in Wood County as to WHY he allowed Timothy B Butcher and R Terry Butcher to break the law and steal money from the estate.

For five years, lawyer after lawyer sent letters to Gainer and Butcher requesting their client have an accounting entitled by law, but the B& B law firm would not take calls and did not respond.

While doing the final accounting Tim Butcher paid himself as much as $10,480 per day, and those documents will be provided in a further publication and some of it has been published in the past, so a Google search may turn up some evidence.

Butcher wanted to make sure that when the account was settled the law firm had already used up the money that was in the bank account which was a situation certainly against the wishes of Albert J Woofter.

Margaret Kreiner, an attorney in Ohio wrote letter after letter stating that they were not adhering to the wishes of the deceased according to the will.  But, the Butchers obviously had Judge FACEMIRE and a few other WV Judges in their pocket, so why should they worry. Kreiner for two years wrote to Gainer asking that Butcher be fired as per wishes of Ruth Woofter and the Guardian. All these letters were ignored by Rosa Belle.

The second document is only shown to establish that according to their own paper work at the Butcher and Butcher law firm, the fact is and was that Rosa Bell Gainer IS NOT A RELATIVE – THEREFORE SHOULD NOT HAVE RECEIVED A PENNY IN THE DISTRUBUTION OF FUNDS FROM THE MISSING 1/6th.

Beverly Marks, the Gilmer County Clerk, distributed money to people RUTH WOOFTER had not seen or heard from in over 30 years and many like JACK GAINER the son of Rosa Belle Gainer and Rosa Belle herself were not even related, but money was sent to them anyway.

The GILMER COUNTY SHERIFF METZ not only ignored our documented complaint, but threatened to have me arrested if I were to investigate, “Any more of his people”

When an entire town and county is involved in this kind of crime that was protected by the local state police and Governor Manchin, now a US Senator, really how does one proceed?  Should we follow their lead and take the law into our own hands?

YOU DECIDE!

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As to Item 7 BENEFICIARIES (SEE INSTRUCTIONS PAGE 13

The listed “Benny’s is for the AJ WOOFTER ESTATE and HAD NOTHING to do with the missing 1/6 of surface property that is on the Calhoun/Gilmer County line West of Glenville on highway 5.

It was clearly established by their own paper work from the Butcher & Butcher law firm that ROSA BELLE GAINER now known as Gainer – Cunningham was NOT a relative yet it was GAINER that received CASH for the missing 1/6th and NOT the immediate family, that had been supporting Ruth Woofter and giving her a home to live in, plus paying for medical care and all taxes.

JACK GAINER, Rosa Belle Gainers son also received cash from the sale of the missing 6th and if Rosa Belle is not a relative, then her son is not either.

THE Missing 6th was not controlled by the estate and the guardian for Ruth Woofter lives in OHIO, and so did RUTH WOOFTER and NO DISTRIBUTION of her funds should have been made from the state of WV. Gilmer County was only supposed to approve the sale so she could use the money for medical help.

Tim Butcher and Beverly Marks both committed a crime with a witness present that will testify, when they disobeyed a court order to sell the property for much needed medical care and PULLED THE TITLE from the land books.

Sheriff Metz never had any intention of doing the right thing, instead attempted to cover the matter up with threats.

WHO MADE UP THE LIST OF PEOPLE TO RECEIVE MONEY FROM THE MISSING 1/6th hidden and pulled from the land books? Beverly Marks? If so, she should be immediately arrested, and the Sheriff should be removed from office.

THIS IS A CRIME not only ignored by the SHERIFF as if, the matter did not exist but also ignored by the WVSTATE POLICE TOO because the final decision maker, the chief counsel from the State Police is from Glenville and directly tied to IKE MORRIS!

These documents are all evidence of a cover up and Gainer and the Butcher and Butcher law firm STOLE money from honest citizens from out of state and did it with the help of Beverly Marks the County Commission Clerk and the GILMER COUNTY COMMISSION ORDERED IS HEREBY ORDERED TO PAY THE MONEY or be held accountable for being accessories to a crime and civil action with penalties.

Timothy B Butcher had no legal right to interfere with that title, but it also was needed in a WV SUPREME COURT CASE and the result was the complaint NO 178- 2011 filed against Justice Jean Davis who certainly has no explanation as to why only 5/6 of the property in dispute was moved forward from circuit court against the rules of legal procedure.

By this proof alone the family that was supposed to receive funds feels they have enough evidence to have MARKS arrested, but when the matter was brought before the state police they refused to press charges, so the matter went before the counsel for the State Police, Virginia Lanham, and now we have discovered her father was a personal attorney for IKE MORRIS Clearly there is corruption in Gilmer County and the clearly the State Police have acted in an irrational and illegal matter.

In fact the state police tried to press charges federal charges against me for making the complaint.

“When LAW ENFORCEMENT becomes a political entity like the WV State Police then AMERICA can no longer be AMERICA and this seems to be the situation for the state of West Virginia!”

Bill Grottendiecks daughter is Virginia Lanham who was the chief counsel for the state police when I filed my complaint with Major Ingold.

Bill Grottendiecks was IKE MORRIS’ number one attorney for over 20 years.

Lanham was the one that decided if my complaint over the missing 1/6th was accepted.

Major Ingold and Lanham more or less ignored the evidence on the recommendation by Lanham, but the virtue of the letter he wrote in response, all of the facts are wrong so by that evidence alone, their execution of the action, would on the surface appear malicious and in bad faith. But, that’s how they do things when it pertains to Gilmer County West Virginia, the POSTER CHILD for West Virginia’s legal hell!

So the title opinion, and back taxes has not been accepted as a complaint or even acknowledged, officially, by ANY agency in West Virginia, and Ohio law enforcement, and everyone else thinks that is pretty weird, but now that I know LANHAM the chief counsel for the State Police is Bill Grottendiecks daughter, it all makes a lot of sense.

Unfortunately the real criminal in this situation is the lawyer from Glenville represented in State Police and some Gilmer County public officials and of course the County Commission Clerk Beverly Marks.

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Marks was written a letter in July asking her to comply on the sudden reappearance of the missing 1/6th:

 

July 12

Beverly,

I spoke with Judge Spicers office today regarding the 1/6th of surface property in Dekalb owned by Audrey Ruth Woofter my aunt, a piece of property I paid taxes on myself, since my mother has broken her hip and didn’t work. Ruth never worked or held a job and had no income.


I explained to the judge’s office that I had a witness that was present when you called Tim Butcher and asked him what to do. The witness said, that Butcher told you to not do anything with the court order from Spicer.

I am talking to an officer of the court by cell phone as I am writing this to you. Spicer is an old family legal name around here and the judge is retiring at the end of the month. We asked him to take action before he leaves office

You ignored the judge’s court order and my aunt did not get the medical treatment she needed because you shelved the court order on order from Butcher who was city attorney and had nothing to do with this case.

Since you shelved the court order and took no action, my aunt could not get the medical treatment she needed for she needed the money from the sale and she died in Ohio.

The judge’s secretary asked me to file charges in WV and I laughed until I nearly cried, for we tried that and got no response from Metz which they actually did not believe. It was an uncomfortable moment, but I assured them it was true.

I will be back in touch with the judge’s office tomorrow and will be talking to the judge after he is fully briefed to ask him what sort of action should be taken. He was not happy you ignored the order and Audrey Ruth Woofter died on Xmas day.

Also, you took it upon yourself to distribute the funds from the sale after the death to heirs Ruth had not seen in over 30 years or so much as sent her a Xmas card. I reviewed the will and this was not the wishes of Albert J Woofter.

Further, matters were clearly stated in the will.

I explained to all concerned of your connection with Timothy B Butcher who pilfered the estate, and we have a serious issue with that. We have a witness that stated you always conferred with Butcher as, “What to do!?“

What you did was not legal, and we have evidence of you having committed similar acts in the past.

If for some reason any of these facts are incorrect, and/or you dispute the testimony of an eye witness, then I suggest you cooperate fully with authorities. You may want to speak with an attorney, at this time.

I have the list of heirs along with the title opinion that was also absent from the courthouse records when requested. We will ask you how you came by that list, and also why you did not go by the wishes of the Albert J Woofter will which specifically stated that all assets were to go to Ramona Bingman.

Rosa Belle Gainer was not a relative to Audrey Ruth Woofter, but yet we noticed she received money illegally from your transaction. So did her son.

How did she get on your list of heirs? Where did you get the list did you just make it up, who helped you with this alleged criminal action?

Ramona Bingman was the registered legal guardian, and had been for years. This was proven to Butcher ten times over, and it is matter of record here at the courthouse, and clearly it was established as fact today.

You decided to, “Make up your own rules” down there in Glenville, and really isn’t that how you always do it!
And this is a PUBLIC NOTICE TO BEVERLY MARKS PROVIDED BY AN AMERICAN FREE PRESS

Beverly Marks, YOU are to contact me immediately in regard to the MISSING 1/6th which you had no right to sell. You were given an order to sell that property while RUTH WOOFTER was alive and you hid the title instead which is criminal. While waiting for the money from the sale for medical care, RUTH DIED ON CHRISTMAS DAY, and as far as I am concerned you are implicated in a wrongful death and so is everyone that helped you who includes Tim Butcher and Sheriff Metz who attempted to cover up the matter and refused to investigate the allegations.

I spent 15 hours on the paperwork dating back to 1994 recently. I spoke at length with my attorney, who was hired for that purpose of reviewing all the documents, and then he attempted to speak with the Butcher&Butcher Law firm on our behalf, but rarely got any response at all. And then,  when he sent proof of the affidavit that proved who the legal guardian was Dianna L Butcher LIED and said they never received the document, but being of above average intelligence sent the document signed return receipt requested, signed and dated by Dianna L Butcher which proves that she lied to our attorney and got caught.

“But, that’s how you always do it in Gilmer County!”

You need to call your attorney for we are going to be filing criminal charges against you and or bringing civil action in US District Court for compensation and also for punitive damages, unless of course Gilmer County wants to settle this suit. But, we know how they are from years of experience, extremely dishonest just like you Beverly Marks.

It clearly states in earlier paper work that Rosa Belle Gainer Cunningham is not a relative, yet you gave her the money from the sale of the property!

You got a court order to sell the property in 2005—but you did not sell it! You pulled the title from the land books like a common thief and you did it on order of Tim Butcher who had nothing to do with that property. What you did is a crime Beverly Marks and you are going to pay for it with as much jail time as we can possibly get you in an honest court, which certainly could never be a Gilmer County Court.

R Bingman was the legal guardian, and all the papers are in order. But YOU BLOCKED the sale until after RUTH DIED when it was her money, but then you abused your position as clerk and gave the money for the property that was not yours to some friends of yours. I would love to discuss this matter with you ASAP - so call me, everyone has my number. I want to see you face to face about this concern as soon as it can be arranged.

Sincerely
Dan Bingman
(Signature on file)

 


RETURN RECEIPT REQUEST IS in reference to text below:

During the entire time the Butchers were in control of the AJ WOOFTER estate they pulled every dirty trick in the book and just sat back in their big leather chairs and weathered out the storm protected by Judge Facemire and the Elites, and kept saying they had no documentation that R Bingman was the legal guardian of RUTH WOOFTER and her primary care giver and her niece that supported her, and provided her with food clothing and shelter for as long as I can remember.

An attorney from Cleveland and licensed to practice in New York is also a federal attorney and could no longer take the stalling tactics of the Butchers, so for an hourly rate which was rather costly provided all the paper work AGAIN that the Butchers needed to prove who the legal guardian was.

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This receipt is signed by Diana L Butcher, but then the estate was held up for almost an entire year after the date on the signed receipt because the Butcher and Butcher law firm said they never received the documents which everyone knew was a complete and total lie. The last day Butcher had control he took more than ten thousand dollars out of the cash account which was three thousand more than the actual beneficiary got and that is just plain a crime. Butcher took 38,000 dollars from the estate in FEE’s he never earned in the last 90 days.

Another attorney by the name of Roger Curry had to be hired at a cost of $10,000 dollars because Butcher refused to cooperate with the out of state attorney, as he did with the four previous attorneys hired.

Rosa Belle Gainer – Cunningham got more than the 3% allowed by law for being an executrix and in some states could have been jailed for being an employee of Butcher and Butcher while being the executrix also, and then just taking more than the 3% allowed. This is a clear conflict and we believe by proven documents that Gainer committed embezzlement and fraud along with Butcher and Butcher and they should be arrested.

All documents are on file at the office of Vance Golden or at my home office, if any person wants verification of facts, I will do all I can to see they get the documents for review.

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Why are public officials in Glenville allowed to break the law?

Who believes that R Terry Butcher and Timothy Butcher should be placed under citizen’s arrest, and then immediately and escorted to jail for stealing money from an elderly mentally challenged person as Ruth Woofter.

Audrey Ruth Woofter was my aunt, and myself and my entire family loved her. I can remember her from the early days in WV since I was three years old. The actions in Gilmer County killed her as far as my family is concerned, but please review the facts and draw your own conclusion, and then let’s put these people in jail where they belong.

~~  by Daniel Bingman ~~

G-otcha™: Update – Furr Remains Behind Bars on Multiple Charges

Timothy Furr, Age 42, of Glenville is charged with daytime burglary, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, possession of controlled prescription pills, possession of meth and possession of cocaine.

Furr was arrested by the West Virginia State Police on Thursday, December 16, 2011 in Gilmer County.

Imprisonment Status:  Pre-Trial Felon

Timothy Alan Furr

Full Name: Furr,  Timothy  Alan
Height: 6’  1”
Weight: 240 lbs.
Birth Date: 03.10.1969
Gender:

Male

Booking Date: 12.16.2011
Facility: Central Regional Jail
Imprisonment Status: Pre-Trial Felon


Offender Court Order Information

Court Info Number Issuing Agency Location
11F144,145 & 11M356,357,358  GILMER COUNTY - Bail Amount: $45,000.00 


On December 14, 201 1, the West Virginia State Police received a complaint from the victims of a Burglary on Van Horn Drive in Glenville, WV.

The victim stated that their residence was broken into while they were at work.

During this larceny, the victim’s stated that two rifles were stolen.

One of the Rifles was a Remington 760 wood stock with Bushnell scope, pump action.

The second rifle stolen was a model 700, .308 with a green stock.

Further other items stolen from the residence was an assortment of Jewelry.

During the initial investigation by WV State Police, the victims stated that Tim Furr, living on Van Horn Drive as well, frequently walks up and down the road, and always kept “eye balling” their residence.

On December 15, 2011, the victim informed the WV State Police Trooper R.P. Smith that they received a call from Tim Furr, who advised that he saw a black Ford Ranger in their drive way, during the date of the Crime.

Later on, the victims reported seeing a Black Ford Ranger pull into Tim Purr’s Drive.

During the evening hours of December 15, 201 1, Trooper Smith located said vehicle and obtained a written statement from the driver.

During this conversation, the Ford Ranger driver confirmed that he was at Tim Furr’s residence.

Further, driver stated that he was invited to Tim Furr’s residence by Tim Furr because he had weapons for sale.

The driver of the vehicle stated that inside of Tim Furr residence he observed Tim Furr attempting to sell two rifles.

The driver was able to describe both of the rifles perfectly to the victim description, including one of the rifle’s unique green stock. This description was done without the investing police officer making any reference to said weapons.

The driver stated that Tim Furr was trying to sell both of the weapons for $700 dollars for both and $ 300 for one.

Finally, the witness showed the police officer text messages that indicated that attempt to sell said weapons.

On December 16, 2011, the WV State Police executed a search warrant on Tim Furr residence.

During the search of the residence, numerous amounts of pills, and burnt spoons were found inside of Tim Furr’s Room, and the residence garage.

Also found inside of Tim Furr’s Room, in his coat, was a syringe containing residue of what Tim Furr described as Meth, and $295 dollars in U.S. Currency.

Also during the search of Furr’s bedroom, and the garage, five baggies of marijuana was located.

Also inside of Purr’s bedroom six pills of alprazolam (IV schedule) were; located.

The search in the garage also yielded a baggie containing a white powdery substance, which the presumption test showed it may contained Cocaine. The baggie was approximately 1 gram.

After placing Tim Furr under arrest, without any direction from the police officer, Tim Furr stated that he uses Meth, and has a drug problem.

As the result of the investigation Furr is charge with knowingly or intentionally possessing a controlled substance without a valid prescription; manufacturing, delivering, possessing, or possessing with intent to manufacture or deliver controlled substance; and burglary.

Furr is behind bars in the Central Regional Jail on a $45, 000 Bond.

12.20.2011
CommunityGilmer CountyGlenvilleNewsArrestsCourthouse

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InMyOpinion™: A Citizen’s View of The State’s Legal System

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According to widely disseminated national information, West Virginia ranks near the bottom among the 50 states for the reputation of our legal system.

In the American Tort Reform Association’s (ATRA) December 16, 2008, news release, our State reclaimed its number one rank among all the states as a perennial legal hellhole. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has ranked the State 50th for our liability system including judicial impartiality.

Even the Nation’s elite legal body rebuked the State’s flawed legal system. In the February 2009 issue of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Journal Law News Now, criticism was leveled against our process in selecting Supreme Court justices. It was declared, that infusions of money from vested interest sources impugn the system’s integrity with appearances that justice is for sale.

There is a perception that one cause of our State’s poor ranking is lack of a robust oversight system designed to protect citizens from unscrupulous lawyers. The State Bar, which is supervised by the West Virginia Supreme Court, is responsible for policing the ethical and professional conduct of our lawyers. On the Bar’s Web site (www.wvbar.org) information regarding the Lawyer Disciplinary Board is available and it is stated, “West Virginia lawyers have adopted high standards of ethics and professional competency and they strive to maintain those standards.“

Two sentences later it is stated, “No trade or profession has rules of conduct which are more exacting or more vigorously enforced.“ When citizens communicate with personnel at the Bar about conflicts with a lawyer, they are advised that a complaint can be filed without need to hire legal counsel. Also, they are assured that all complaints are thoroughly investigated, but they may not know that lawyers dominate the “investigations”.

Another factor is that the Disciplinary Board’s Chief Counsel is seemingly empowered to unilaterally decide on merits of a complaint. Also, when citizens file an appeal, the Chief Counsel’s decision can apparently be rubber stamped with no verification that it was even read and evaluated by other officials. That brings to mind Lord Acton’s famous quote that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.“

Citizens perceive that the intricate involvement of lawyers with issues affecting fellow lawyers has inherent conflict of interest implications. For example, if the Bar’s rules are read carefully, it is evident that it exercises wide discretion in its oversight capacity. Seemingly, loopholes exist to authorize it to forgo discipline for lawyers who engage in misconduct.

Another point is that the Lawyer Disciplinary Board’s composition is two-thirds lawyers and one-third non-lawyers. All members are appointed by the President of the Bar’s Board of Governors. West Virginians are entitled to question if the appointments are merit-based and do the appointee’s have demonstrated abilities to reason analytically, avoid succumbing to politics, and be immune to pressures which could stem from forces within the legal system?

When a complaint is filed, the Bar submits it to the lawyer involved to immediately pit a layman against a person highly trained in mounting legal defenses. From the outset that disadvantages common citizens. For an illustration, how often can a West Virginian recall hearing a lawyer involved in wrongdoing admit to inappropriate behavior? The standard response is for them to argue that they are the aggrieved parties, and they maintain that citizens who oppose them are at fault. The behavior suggests to laypeople that lawyers are programmed to never admit mistakes.

Citizens seemingly have extraordinary heavy burdens of proof to achieve justice from the State Bar. I understand that in West Virginia hundreds of complaints are filed annually against lawyers, but the Bar reportedly rules against complainants more than 95% of the time. The statistic tracks with trends throughout the Nation disclosed by the Help Abolish Legal Tyranny (HALT) organization.

HALT summarized a 2007 ABA report involving 123,927 complaints. Only 3.5% of the cases resulted in discipline for lawyers. HALT also reported that 84% of the respondents in a Gallup poll did not believe that the legal profession has high ethical standards. Also, in the ABA’s Law News Now (March 2009) issue there is an article pertaining to West Virginia’s corrupt legal system. It was reported too that in multiple surveys, “80% of the [American] people believe that money influences judicial decision-making.“

That is highly unfortunate because in our Pledge of Allegiance we learned from childhood years that in America we have “Liberty and Justice for all.“ Nothing is in the pledge to infer that Lady Justice responds to outcries of citizens for justice with the proviso that they must have money and political connections.

To validate how Americans can harbor negative opinions about the legal profession in general, The Federalist Number 97 (www.constitutionalguardian.com) pertains to a thought provoking viewpoint. The author who purportedly is a constitutional scholar signed off as Publius II. He argued that temptation is the root cause of arrant lawyers. He cited four factors including: exposure to bountiful opportunities for misconduct, low risks of discovery, low probability for swift and harsh punishment, and peer pressure.

The peer pressure factor was attributed to prevailing beliefs that “everybody does it” to make misconduct appealable to some lawyers.

When citizens consult with lawyers to be convinced that there are valid grounds for a Bar complaint and a lawyer is hired at great expense to write and file a complaint, that does not guarantee that justice will be served by the Bar. The Bar’s response to a complaint can include: citing of insufficient evidence of wrong doing, a lawyer was not involved in any misconduct to suggest that lawyers can follow rules separate from societal norms, a lawyer’s work may have been slipshod, but that did not constitute grounds for discipline, a citizen misinterpreted what a lawyer did, a complaint was not filed within prescribed time limits, and a lawyer’s conduct was not flagrant enough to merit discipline.

The attitude can be conveyed to the public that anything a lawyer does can be over looked by the Bar, particularly for complaints which escape the news media’s scrutiny.

The Bar will disclose information about numbers of complaints filed against a specific lawyer in response to a citizen’s request. Although there can be complaints on record and the Bar has issued clean bills of health, the existence of complaints can be a factor to consider before hiring a lawyer.

After the Bar clears a lawyer, a citizen retains the right to pursue a complaint in court, but lawyers know that average citizens usually lack financial resources to use the legal system effectively. A financial deterrent exists because law suits can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Besides prohibitive costs, it can take years for a case to advance through all layers of the court.

Incidences of wrongdoing by lawyers may be more prevalent in West Virginia than suspected. It is rare if a citizen, family member, or friend has not had experiences with lawyers believed to have been unscrupulous. Additionally, it is common for lawyers to scoff at threats of a Bar complaint. That is because they know that for the overwhelming percentage of complaints, disciplining by the Bar is rare.

Another facet is that the Bar is not required to disclose its affairs in detail to make it subject to full transparency and accountability. That special status impedes the intervention of checks and balances which are cornerstones of our democracy.

Also, it can take up to two years for the Bar to rule on a complaint. The delay is an example of the adage that “justice delayed is justice denied.“ Regardless of the causes, the lack of effective oversight of the State’s lawyers is a sterling example of a failure of self-regulation. In the Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct an argument is mounted for the legal profession’s necessity to be self-regulating and accountable only to the legal establishment.

That position is uncomforting to West Virginians concerned about the reputation of the State’s legal climate and observations about failures of self-regulation in general which have brought our Nation to the verge of financial ruin.

There are several books targeted to laypeople who wish to be wiser consumers when dealing with lawyers. One book is entitled, “Dancing With Lawyers” by Nicholas Carroll. Among numerous subjects, Mr. Carroll described the tendency of disciplinary bodies to be lax when dealing with their members by stating, “With the exception of stealing money in trust, the index of outrage is not how damaging or dishonest the lawyer was, but how flagrant he was.“

A second book is entitled “How Lawyers Screw Their Clients and What You Can Do About It” by Donald E. deKieffer, Esq.; a third book’s title is “It’s Time To Wake Up And Smell The Lawyers” by Greg Hickman. Mr. deKieffer, an internationally famous lawyer, suggests that greed is the primary cause of lawyers preying on the public.

Most of his book pertains to problems associated with lawyers who focus on billable hours instead of efficiency and service to clients. Hickman maintains a website devoted to lawyer issues (www.power-of-attorneys.com). A fourth book is HALT’s “Using a Lawyer” by Kay Ostberg and Theresa M. Rudy. It is designed as an instruction manual for citizens. One item emphasized in the book is the right of citizens to have “an accessible and accountable legal system.“

There is another publication circulating throughout West Virginia entitled “Woe Unto You Lawyers!“ by Fred Rodell which can be accessed on Google by entering his name. It contains a troubling account of issues relevant to imperfections in the legal system by a person who is identified as a lawyer. Similar to numerous truisms in life after citizens have bad experiences dealing with lawyers, it provides little comfort from reading the referenced books other than to enhance their preparedness for future dealings.

Innumerable subjects are addressed in the five books including: how bills are inflated by performing unnecessary legal research and other tasks, why lawyers who run “one stop law offices” increase client’s bills by charging for learning on the job when a specialty area of law is involved, how lawyers profit by encouraging and prolonging legal disputes, how lawyers can maneuver to make it cost prohibitive for citizens to use the legal system to get justice, and why disciplinary bodies are lenient in enforcing codes of conduct espoused for lawyers.

Lawyers everywhere may have to be more reasonable with their fees because the ABA reported that New York law firms are laying them off in droves. Maybe that signals a trend, and the free market’s law of supply and demand will force artificially inflated legal fees downward. West Virginians can take advantage of the development by being wise consumers through shopping around for legal services. Additionally, with increasing use of computers, access to lower cost, web-based legal services should contribute to lower legal fees.

When citizens discuss fees, it is common for them to state that 25-50% can be saved by finding competent and affordable lawyers who are devoted to serving the public. Lawyers opposed to improved trends of consumerism will be the same ones who haggle at Lexus and Mercedes dealerships to avoid paying full sticker prices.

From some lawyers, criticism of the State Bar will precipitate indignations laced with: denial that problems exist, and criticism is based on faulty information and misunderstandings. Blame deflection will be used with arguments that citizens are over reacting, and there will be suggestions that non-lawyers are incapable of making valid assessments about the Bar’s functions.

Also, there will be predictable advocacy that self-regulation works, the legal profession is entitled to special status as a trust worthy self-regulator, and ad infinitum. A one phrase summary would be—resolute advocacy for business as usual and criticism toward citizens who believe that reform is essential.

Without question the majority of our State’s lawyers are honorable and they would undoubtedly champion improvements involving the State Bar’s functions. The daunting challenge is what do we do West Virginians? When commenting on problem-solving General Chuck Yeager, a revered State hero, offered advice to focus on correcting and preventing problems instead of expending valuable time and resources on blame assignment.

That advice seems timely for issues affecting the State Bar and West Virginia’s entire legal system. A respected legal system is necessary for functioning of our democracy. However, when the citizenry begins to mistrust and disrespect the system, that signals perilous times.

~~  by Carl L. Armour, Ph.D. – Glenville, WV ~~

G-Comm™: A Call for Prosecutorial Accountability

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Recently, in the wake of one of its most controversial recent decisions, Connick v. Thompson, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in another case involving alleged prosecutorial misconduct stemming from the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office in Smith v. Cain.

Last term, the Supreme Court famously limited municipal civil liability for prosecutors in Connick. In justifying this holding in part by stating that prosecutors are “personally subject to an ethics regime designed to reinforce the profession’s standards,“ the Court pointed to the existence of the American Bar Association (ABA) and state grievance mechanisms that set ethical standards for prosecutors and discipline them when they break the rules.

New research analyzing the policies and procedures for disciplining attorneys in each state and in the District of Columbia shows that prosecutors are rarely held accountable when misconduct occurs. While the Supreme Court’s Connick decision severely limits the liability prosecutors face for misconduct, and closes one of the few remaining possible channels of civil prosecutorial liability, the existing “ethics regime” the Court entrusts does not currently protect against or regularly sanction instances of prosecutorial misconduct.

Inspired by the Connick decision, students from the Liman Prosecutorial Mis¬con¬duct Research Project at Yale Law School examined the basis of the reliance on current attorney-sanctioning mechanisms. The resulting investigation of the disciplinary procedures in various states found that the process and results are largely inadequate for investigating claims of misconduct and holding prosecutors accountable.

There are significant barriers to utilizing state grievance procedures to discipline prosecutors, both in terms of the processes themselves, as well as professional disincentives to do so. The result is limited accountability for prosecutors who engage in misconduct. However, the new research has yielded a series of recommended reforms to make the system more transparent, responsive and efficacious.
Rule 3.8 of the ABA’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct forms one of the cornerstones of prosecutorial professional responsibility and defines the unique obligations of prosecutors. With the exception of California, every state and the District of Columbia has adopted some form of the Model Rules and, through the states’ courts of last resort, has defined the bodies and procedures to hold attorneys accountable to them. The variation in adoption of the Model Rules has resulted in different requirements from state to state that are almost uniformly less exacting than the Model Rule. More uniform adoption would improve consistency and clarity.
When the rules are broken, in most states, discipline falls to state bar associations, which investigate claims of misconduct. As the Liman Project found, the structures and regulatory bodies that hold attorneys accountable are unnecessarily secretive and complex. Prosecutors are rarely sanctioned through these mechanisms.

For example, troublingly, the only prosecutor sanctioned by Louisiana’s attorney grievance system for his role in the case of John Thompson was not involved in prosecuting Thompson or directly involved in the Brady violations that led to his wrongful conviction. He was the attorney who brought the violations to the attention of Louisiana’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel after learning of them from a colleague, evidencing the ineffectiveness of Louisiana’s disciplinary mechanisms when prosecutorial misconduct is at issue.

Psychologists Ann Tenbrunsel and David Messick, in a 1999 article in Administrative Science Quarterly, studied the effects of sanctioning systems on decisions and cooperation, finding that “a weak sanctioning system can actually decrease cooperation, decrease expectations of cooperation, and influence perceptions of the situation,“ promoting a focus on a cost-benefit analysis of the decision rather than an ethical analysis. A strong sanctioning system predicted the highest level of rule compliance. How do we create strong sanctioning systems in the context of prosecutorial accountability?

Several key reforms would strengthen the professional-responsibility regime that affects prosecutors. These include recommending that the ABA begin a dialogue with states and the Department of Justice about expanding Rule 3.8 to more completely address prosecutors’ full range of responsibilities, including discretion in investigating and charging crimes and in negotiating pleas. State supreme courts should control the states’ disciplinary processes, with an active and substantial role for laypersons. Any interested party should be able to bring a grievance alleging prosecutorial misconduct, and claims should be easily filable online. State grievance agencies need to be properly resourced — both financially and with experienced investigators knowledgeable in the intricacies of criminal justice and the role of prosecutors.

Additionally, disciplinary committees should institute automatic filing of ethics complaints, triggered whenever a court finds that a prosecutor has behaved unethically. State grievance committees should undertake regular and randomized auditing of cases to increase the likelihood that prosecutorial misconduct will be discovered and remedied. Transparency of process is important; it both legitimizes and informs.

The Supreme Court’s Connick decision serves as a call to state supreme courts and bar associations. Although it is one of the few mechanisms that address prosecutorial misconduct, the bar complaint system is currently underutilized and largely ineffective as a regulatory authority for disciplining prosecutorial misconduct. A few key reforms would better define the ethical requirements that reflect the prosecutor’s mandate to seek justice, work to deter misconduct, and make it easier to hold prosecutors accountable when misconduct occurs.

by Deborah Jane Cooper - a second-year law student at Yale Law School - The National Law Journal ~~

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