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COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST FLATWOODS-AREA FUNERAL HOME

The Gilmer Free Press

Complaint alleges Stockert-Sizemore Funeral Home violated
the West Virginia Preneed Act and state Consumer Credit and Protection Act.

WV Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced his Office recently filed a complaint against a now-closed Braxton County funeral home and its owner alleging that they violated the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act, as well as the West Virginia Preneed Act.

The complaint alleges the former Stockert-Sizemore Funeral Home Inc. and its previous owner, Timothy Sizemore, of Nitro, misappropriated money from consumers who were trying to prepay their funeral costs, did not register some preneed funeral contracts with the State, and used unfair and deceptive practices when selling preneed contracts to consumers. The complaint alleges the defendants engaged in continuous violations of the Preneed Act and Consumer Act from at least 2008 until April 2013.

The funeral home went through foreclosure in November 2013 and was sold at auction. The funeral home now goes by a different name and has new owners.  The Office’s complaint does not allege any wrongdoing by the current owners, who have been fully cooperating with and assisting the Attorney General’s Office.

“This complaint seeks to protect senior citizens and others who in good faith tried to prepay for their funerals so as not to burden their loved ones with additional expenses at what may already be a sad and stressful time,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “These contracts were entered into in good faith, and people must be confident that when they enter into a contract with a business the business will uphold its end of the deal.”

The complaint alleges the funeral home accepted a total of $30,593.08 from at least seven individuals as advance payment for funeral services but then failed to deposit that money into a trust account or insurance policy under the individual’s name, which is a violation of the law. It also alleges the funeral home failed to forward to the state copies of consumers’ preneed contracts. Funeral homes are required by law to file those forms within 10 days. The complaint alleges that didn’t happen.

The complaint also alleges Sizemore failed to keep accurate accounts, books and/or records of all of their transactions. As a result, the true location of consumers’ advance payments could not be readily determined.

“Our Office identified multiple areas of violation and at least 12 West Virginia consumers who were affected by the defendants’ conduct,” Morrisey said.

The complaint asks for civil penalties of $5,000 per violation and punitive damages equal to three times the civil penalties. It also asks the judge to order the funeral home to refund all consumer preneed advance payments it has received for funerals it has not yet performed, turn over to the State all preneed contracts it may have entered into, and produce any documents and/or records pertaining to any prepayment or agreement to prepay for funeral goods or services by any consumer prior to the death of the consumer or payment beneficiary.

The complaint also seeks an order prohibiting Sizemore from transferring or conveying any real or personal property in his control to any third party until the matter has been adjudicated.

The complaint was filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court and was assigned case number 14-C-1953.

A copy of the complaint can be viewed by Clicking H E R E .

WV Counties 2014-15 Christmas and New Year’s Courthouse Hours

Below, is a complete list of dates all 55 West Virginia County Courthouses will be closed for the Christmas and New Year’s Day Holidays.

The dates are subject to change on the orders of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and/or state Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis.

For updated information in a specific county, call the county commission office at the number provided.

The Gilmer Free Press

Barbour County

Philippi

304.457.4339

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day Regular

Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


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Berkeley County

Martinsburg

304.264.1923

December 24 and December 31- Starting at Noon

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Boone County

Madison

304.369.7301

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Braxton County

Sutton

304.765.2835

December 24, 25 and January 01 - All Day

December 31 - Starting at Noon

Regular Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM


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Brooke County

Wellsburg

304.737.3024

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Cabell County

Huntington

304.526.8364

December 24 - Starting at Noon

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

December 31 - Beginning at 12:30 PM

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


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Calhoun County

Grantsville

304.354.6725

December 24 and December 31 - Starting at Noon

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM


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Clay County

Clay

304.587.4259

December 24-Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

December 31 - Half Day except the County Clerk’s Office which will remain open All Day

Regular Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM


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Doddridge County

West Union

304.873.2631

December 24 and December 31 - Staring at Noon

December 25-26 & January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Fayette County

Fayetteville

304.574.4290

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM


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Gilmer County

Glenville

304.462.7641

December 24 - starting at 11:30 AM

December 25-26 & January 01 - All Day

December 31 - starting at Noon

Regular Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM


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Grant County

Petersburg

304.257.4422

December 24 and December 31 Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Greenbrier County

Lewisburg

304.647.6689

December 24 and December 31 - Starting at Noon

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Hampshire County

Romney

304.822.5112

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Hancock County

New Cumberland

304.564.3311

December 24 and December 31 - Starting at Noon

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


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Hardy County

Moorefield

304.530.0250

December 24-25 & December 31-January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM


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Harrison County

Clarksburg

304.624.8500

December 24 and December 31 - Starting at Noon

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Jackson County

Ripley

304.373.2220

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Jefferson County

Charles Town

304.728.3284

December 24 and December 31 - Starting at Noon

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Kanawha County

Charleston

304.357.0101

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Normal Hours: Monday-Wednesday & Friday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Thursday 8:00 AM - 7:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Lewis County

Weston

304.269.8200

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Normal Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Lincoln County

Hamlin

304.824.7990

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM


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Logan County

Logan

304.792.8626

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01- All Day

December 26 and January 02 - All Day except the Circuit and Magistrate Clerk’s Offices which will be open

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


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Marion County

Fairmont

304.367.5400

December 24 and December 31- Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


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Marshall County

Moundsville

304.845.0482

December 24 and December 31 -Half Day

December 25 - 26 & January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: Monday - Thursday 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM

Friday 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Mason County

Point Pleasant

304.675.1110

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25-26 and January 01 -All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

McDowell County

Welch

304.436.8548

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Mercer County

Princeton

304.487.8309

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25,26 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Mineral County

Keyser

304.788.3924

December 24 and 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01- All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Mingo County

Williamson

304.236.0377

December 24 and December 31 -Starting at 12:30 except the Circuit and Magistrate Clerk’s Offices which will remain open

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Monongalia County

Morgantown

304.291.7257

December 24 and December 31-1:00 PM

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

December 26 - per discretion of office

Regular Hours: Monday 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM

Tuesday - Friday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Monroe County

Union

304.772.3096

December 24 - Half Day

December 25, 26 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 AM


The Gilmer Free Press

Morgan County

Bath (Berkeley Springs)

304.258.8540

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: Monday, Tuesday & Friday: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Wednesday: 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Thursday: 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Nicholas County

Summersville

304.872.7830

December 24 and 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01- All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Ohio County

Wheeling

304.234.3628

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Pendleton County

Franklin

304.358.7573

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Pleasants County

St. Marys

304.684.3542

December 24 and 31 - Starting at Noon

December 25, 26 and January 01- All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Pocahontas County

Marlinton

304.799.6063

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Preston County

Kingwood

304.329.1805

December 24 and December 31 - Starting at Noon

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: Monday 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM

Tuesday - Friday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Putnam County

Winfield

304.586.0201

December 16 - 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM for Christmas Party

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: Monday-Wednesday & Friday, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Thursday, 8:00 AM - 7:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Raleigh County

Beckley

304.255.9146

December 24 and December 31- Starting at Noon

December 25, 26 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Randolph County

Elkins

304.636.2057

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Ritchie County

Harrisville

304.643.2164

December 24 and 31 - Starting at Noon

December 25 and January 01- All Day

Regular Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Roane County

Spencer

304.927.0078

December 24 and 31 - starting at Noon

December 25 and January 01- All Day

Regular Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Saturday 9:00 AM - Noon except on a Holiday


The Gilmer Free Press

Summers County

Hinton

304.466.7100

December 24 and 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30:00 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Taylor County

Grafton

304.265.1401

December 24 and December 31- Half Day

December 25,26 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Tucker County

Parsons

304.478.2866

December 24 and 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01- All Day

Regular Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Tyler County

Middlebourne

304.758.2102

December 24 and December 31- Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Upshur County

Buckhannon

304.472.0535

December 19 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Wayne County

Wayne

304.272.6350

December 24 - Starting at Noon

December 25 and December 26 - All Day

January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: Monday-Wednesday & Friday, 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Thursday, 8:00 AM - 7:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Webster County

Webster Springs

304.847.5780

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25, 26 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Wetzel County

New Martinsville

304.455.8217

December 24 and December 31 - Half Day

December 25 and January 01 - All Day

Regular Hours: Monday - Wednesday & Friday, 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM

Thursday, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Saturday 9:00 AM - Noon


The Gilmer Free Press

Wirt County

Elizabeth

304.275.4271

December 24, 25 and December 26 - All Day

January 01- All Day

Regular Hours: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM


The Gilmer Free Press

Wood County

Parkersburg

304.424.1976

December 25 - All Day

January 01 – All Day


The Gilmer Free Press

Wyoming County

Pineville

304.732.8000

December 24 – All Day

December 25 - All Day

January 01 – All Day

West Virginia Has Been Included Among the Top 5 Judicial Hellholes Again

For the past decade, West Virginia has been included among the top 5 Judicial Hellholes. Since it hit the #1 spot five years ago, there have been some modest improvements, including a slight expansion of the appellate rights of litigants, an occasional well-reasoned decision that does not expand liability, and replacement of the state’s notoriously plaintiff-friendly attorney general. Yet the past year indicates that the state’s high court has not changed its ways, as it broke a century of precedent to expand the liability of home and business owners and granted undefined powers to the state’s attorney general. The litigation climate in the Mountain State remains one where businesses are subject to pro-plaintiff rulings, fear excessive liability, and lack full appellate review.


PROPERTY OWNERS HAVE NEW DUTY TO GUARD AGAINST OBVIOUS HAZARDS

West Virginia courts have repeatedly adopted rules that are out of the mainstream and impose excessive liability. In past years, for example, its high court allowed cash awards to uninjured people who brought speculative medical monitoring claims and rejected a widely accepted principle that drug companies have an obligation to educate doctors, not directly warn patients, of potential side effects of their products. This year, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals abandoned over a century of state precedent by abolishing the rule that a property owner has no duty to protect people from open and obvious hazards that they may encounter on their property.

The case arose when the plaintiff, who could not walk without the aid of a cane and was falling on a daily basis, fell down stairs in a store parking lot. He alleged that the owner was liable because the stairway lacked guardrails, which were required by local ordinance. The lot owner, however, had removed the guardrails because skateboarders had taken to using them for stunts and had damaged them. The owner was afraid that the skateboarders or someone else would get hurt. New guardrails were scheduled to be installed two weeks after the plaintiff ’s fall. Well settled West Virginia law provided that there is no duty to warn against “open and obvious” dangers and the trial court dismissed the case.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals reversed. A 3-2 majority abolished the “open and obvious danger doctrine,” finding instead that property owners have a duty to protect people from all hazards, obvious or not. A person’s decision to ignore an obvious risk might lead a jury to reduce his or her damages, but would not impact
the owner’s legal duty to provide such protection in the first place.

The Gilmer Free Press

Under this ruling, those who own property in West Virginia have significantly
greater liability exposure. For example, people will need to consider how to protect guests from natural conditions on their property, such as a stream, a hole, or a cliff, or hazards within their house or business, such as a stairway, no matter how obvious.

Justice Allen H. Loughry II dissented from the creation of this new duty. He recognized that his colleagues have “saddled property owners with the impossible burden of making their premises ‘injury proof ’ for persons who either refuse or are inexplicably incapable of taking personal responsibility for their own safety.” “Ordinary homeowners,” Justice Loughry recognized, “will pay the highest price for the majority’s pandering to persons who ignore the risk associated with open and obvious hazards that ordinary, hard-working citizens encounter every day and invariably utilize their common sense and good judgment to avoid.” Justice Loughry, unlike his colleagues, recognized the practical effect of the ruling. Before changing this rule, West Virginia judges could dismiss meritless lawsuits where the plaintiff complained of an injury that resulted from ignoring an obvious hazard. Now, every slip-and-fall claim filed in West Virginia may require a full jury trial no matter how irresponsible the plaintiff ’s conduct in accepting a known risk. As Justice Loughry observed, “It is decisions like this that have given this state the unfortunate reputation of being a judicial hellhole.”


PUNISHED FOR MOUNTING A DEFENSE

In late 2012, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court decision that allowed state courts to inflate punitive damage awards against companies that defend themselves in court.

The case involved an individual’s claim that she was misled by a national home mortgage lender’s representations when refinancing her home. Following a trial by Ohio County Circuit Court Judge Arthur M. Recht without a jury, the lender was found liable for unconscionable practices. Judge Recht not only awarded the plaintiff about $17,000 in res- titution, he voided the remainder of the $144,800 loan obligation on her home. Judge Recht also awarded the plaintiff nearly $600,000 in attorney fees and costs under West Virginia’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act.

Effectively giving the plaintiff the house, in addition to compensating her for actual losses, is highly question- able. But what raises even greater concern is how the court calculated the punitive damage award. U.S. Supreme Court case law requires some level of proportionality between a plaintiff’s injury and the punishment imposed on a defendant. For that reason, it appears that Judge Recht decided that the company should pay three times the plaintiff’s compensatory damages as punitive damages. Rather than apply this multiplier to the plaintiff ’s actual loss of $17,000, or the loan obligation of $144,000, the judge took both of these amounts, added in $600,000 in attorneys’ fees claimed by the plaintiff’s lawyers, and multiplied by three. The result: A wholly absurd award of $2.2 million for punitive damages.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals found that the plaintiff’s attorney fees were “compensatory in nature” and therefore could be properly included in calculating, or reviewing the excessiveness of, a punitive damage award. The court’s reasoning fails to recognize that, generally, consumer protection statutes authorize recovery of attorneys fees to further specific public policies, such as facilitating claims involving small consumer purchases or to punish those who employ deceptive practices. Such awards do not reflect actual harm to a consumer. As a result of this ruling, in cases where attorneys’ fees are recoverable, it is likely that West Virginia courts will award inflated, unconstitutionally-excessive punitive damage awards.

To its credit, the high court reversed the punitive damages award on the ground that Judge Recht had failed to conduct a “meaningful and adequate” analysis in awarding punitive damages, which requires written findings explaining his reasoning. It sent the case back to the trial court for further consideration.

But in “Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia,” winning an appeal can be a lot like losing… only worse.

Since Judge Recht had retired before the high court ruled, the case was reassigned to Judge David J. Sims. In June, Judge Sims actually increased the multiplier from 3 to 3.5, and then applied it to compensatory damages of $116,276.72 and attorney fees and costs that had grown to $875,233. The result: a $3.5 million punitive damages award largely based on the plaintiff ’s legal expenses, rather than actual harm resulting from the defendant’s conduct.

Apparently, West Virginia courts are punishing companies for having the audacity to defend themselves and exercise their right to appeal. But hope springs eternal in West Virginia. The company has filed another appeal.


STATE AG GAINS OK TO HIRE CONTINGENCY-FEE LAWYERS, MORE POWER

As lauded among the Points of Light (see p. 54), new West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has abandoned the practices of his predecessor, Darrell McGraw, who frequently hired contingency-fee lawyers to represent the state. Morrisey’s new policy, which requires open bidding and provides transparency in such arrangements, deserves commendation. But a West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruling this year, in a challenge to AG hiring practices under McGraw that Morrisey inherited, resulted in a ruling that not only upheld the AG’s authority to hire contingency-fee lawyers to enforce state law, but significantly expanded the AG’s ability to do so by abandoning past precedent.

Here is the background. In 2011, then-Attorney General Darrell McGraw, appointed plaintiffs’ lawyers from three firms as “special assistant attorneys general” to pursue an action against credit card issuers claiming that use of “payment protection plans” violates the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act. He retained the plaintiffs’ lawyers through a three-paragraph letter giving them authority to initiate and maintain the action and select whichcredit card companies to sue. The letter required only that the private lawyers keep the AG’s office “apprised of any and all actions taken” and anticipated “ongoing discussions regarding tactics and strategy.” The letter did not set a specific amount of compensation for the private lawyers, but “contemplated that you will advance all expenses associated with the maintenance of the action” and “subject to the approval of the court . . . earn a proper, reason- able and customary fee.” The plaintiffs’ lawyers filed suit on behalf of the state in August 2011 and sought, among other relief, civil penalties of up to $5,000 per alleged violation, a remedy that is available only to the state. Also before the court was McGraw’s use of a similar arrangement to sue a pharmaceutical maker for allegedly engaging in unfair and deceptive acts in the marketing of the diabetes drug Avandia.

In June, the court unanimously (with one recusal) rejected the petition and granted new powers to the AG. The court summarily rejected claims that the state’s use of private lawyers who have a financial interest in collecting the highest monetary award violates due process. It then focused on whether and when state law authorizes the AG to hire outside lawyers. It found that contingency-fee lawyers hired by the state, who would be precluded by the state’s ethics laws from using their office for private gain, are not public employees subject to such safeguards. The court also down- played the potential for a conflict between the public interest and private financial motivations since the agreements did not specifically tie the lawyer’s compensation to the amount of the penalties inflicted. Ignoring practical realities, the court found the private lawyers merely make “recommendations” to the AG on the direction of the case.

The outcome of this case is a more powerful West Virginia Attorney General. The court used the Petitioners’ challenge to the AG’s statutory authority to hire outside counsel to declare broadly that the AG has inherent common law powers and is not constrained by legislative appropriations. Ironically, the court overruled a prior decision authored by then Justice McGraw that had constrained the AG’s authority. Now West Virginia’s AG has undefined powers. Those powers include hiring outside counsel when not authorized to do so by the legislature and paying the private lawyers without the need for a legislative appropriation. Fortunately, Morrisey has adopted a policy for the hiring of outside counsel that addresses these concerns. But future West Virginia Attorneys General will inherit an office with more power, less constraints, and could choose to abandon Morrisey’s policies and go back to the practices of McGraw or worse.


STILL NO INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT

A survey conducted by West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse found that most voters support creation of an intermediate appellate court and the right to appeal an adverse decision. Despite limited judicial reforms that have modestly expanded review in the state’s sole appellate court, West Virginia remains among only two states in the country where one does not have an absolute right to appeal.

The state’s Chief Justice Menis Ketchum, along with the plaintiffs’ bar, opposes such
a proposal, claiming that providing litigants with the same ability to appeal found in
other states is unnecessary and would be a waste of money. They contend that previous tweaks to the appellate system, which require the Supreme Court of Appeals to provide at least a short summary of its decisions to reject appeals, is working. And since personal injury lawyers serve as Senate President, Speaker of the House and Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, efforts to expand the right to appeal have, for the foreseeable future, a snowball’s chance in a hellhole. For example, this year a resolution was introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates that would have simply funded a year- long study of “the effectiveness and efficiency of the Supreme Court Rules on the Appeals process in West Virginia.” It passed the House (though an amendment specifically requiring consideration of an intermediate appellate court was rejected), but the Senate killed it by taking no action.


MORE OF THE SAME OLD, SAME OLD

Meanwhile, West Virginia courts continued issuing troubling rulings in a number of areas previously profiled in this report.

  • West Virginia courts allow personal injury lawyers to circumvent the no-fault workers’ compensation system and sue an employer for damages. The workers’ compensation system is supposed to provide a tradeoff. Workers get prompt payment for injuries without having to show their employer was at fault, while employers do not have the extent of liability exposure present in a personal injury lawsuit. This system is not functioning properly in West Virginia. The latest example is a West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals decision in November that expansively interprets an exception to the workers’ compensation system that allows a lawsuit when a company acts with a “deliberate intent” to cause harm. That exception is intended to allow lawsuits if an employer intentionally harms a worker or engages in conduct that it knows is highly likely to result in an injury. But in the recent decision, a divided court found the exception applied to conduct that shows only ordinary, simple negligence or a lack of oversight. As the level-headed Justice Loughry observed in dissent, “The majority’s opinion constitutes . . . yet another step toward its ultimate goal of rendering our deliberate intent statute a meaningless codification of simple workplace negligence standards.” Justice Loughry criticized his colleagues’ judicial activism, observing that “[t]his is quite simply not the type of workplace oversight for which a statutory deliberate intent is designed to provide redress.”
  • In April, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib Jr. denied a new trial in a nursing home abuse lawsuit that resulted in an award of over $91 million, finding the award was not excessive or unconstitutional. Last year’s Judicial Hellhole report highlighted the monster verdict, which could adversely affect the availability of affordable nursing home care in the state. The case is now on appeal to West Virginia’s sole appellate court. It calls into question whether the state’s $500,000 limit on subjective noneconomic damages applies to nursing homes.
  • Numerous asbestos lawsuits are filed in the Kanawha Circuit Court. Each one typically targets dozens of defendants. In one recent case, a plaintiff claimed that 154 companies are responsible for his development of lung cancer. In June, Judge Ronald E. Wilson, who handles the state’s asbestos litigation, was named “Judge of the Year” by the West Virginia Association for Justice, the group that represents the state’s personal injury lawyers. Needless to say, such recognition hardly makes defendants confident that they will get a fair shake in his courtroom.
  • A federal jury late last year found that two prominent Pittsburgh attorneys, Robert Peirce and Louis Raimond, and a discredited radiologist, Ray Harron, conspired to generate fraudulent asbestos lawsuits in West Virginia. The jury awarded $429,000 to the company that fought back against the fraud, CSX Transportation. In October, U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Stamp of the Northern District of West Virginia tripled the award, to nearly $1.3 million, as permitted under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Holding individuals responsible for bringing fraudulent claims took eight long years of litigation. It has not ended yet. The RICO verdict is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

  • JUDICIAL HELLHOLES IN U.S.
    1 New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL)
    2 California
    3 West Virginia Supreme Court
    4 Florida Supreme Court
    5 Madison County, Illinois
    6 Missouri Supreme Court
    7 Louisiana

Gilmer County Family Court Report – 12.17.14

The Gilmer Free Press

Gilmer County Family Court Judge Larry Whited presided over Family Court in Gilmer County on Wednesday, December 10, 2014.


•  Stephanie Frymier (35) of Glenville, WV divorced Russell Frymier (45) of Glenville, WV.


•  One divorce was dismissed.


•  One divorce was continued.


•  Two allocations were finalized.



Gilmer County Family Court Judge Larry Whited presided over Family Court in Gilmer County on Wednesday, December 17, 2014.


•  He dismissed 2 domestic violence petitions.


•  He granted one divorce:  Heather Druham (30) of Glenville, WV divorced Edward Durham (29) of Dunbar, WV.

Gilmer County Schools December 2014 Newsletter

The Gilmer Free Press

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Costs to Incarcerate Young People Tip of Iceberg

The Gilmer Free Press

Over the past decade, the vast majority of states have reduced the number of youth they incarcerate in juvenile justice system facilities: There has been a 45 percent decline in the number of youth committed in residential placement between 2001 and 2011.

Despite this progress, many juvenile justice systems and the elected officials who oversee them are still making policy choices that rely on the most costly but least effective response to delinquency. The most recent data show that 62 percent of youth committed and confined in 2011 were there for a nonviolent, non-person offense.

Our continued overreliance on incarceration costs some within our community more than others: For every one white youth confined in 2011, nearly three youth of color were confined. There is evidence that while the overall number of incarcerated youth is declining, the gap between who is confined and who isn’t is widening along racial and ethnic lines.

In a new report from the Justice Policy Institute, “Sticker Shock: The Full Price Tag for Youth Incarceration,” we expand on our previous work on what it costs young people, their families and our communities when we overrely on incarceration.

“Sticker Shock” builds on our 2009 report Costs of Confinement, where we reported data from the American Correctional Association on what juvenile departments told them they spend each day (or each year) on the confinement of a young person. In “Sticker Shock,” we directly surveyed state juvenile corrections administrators or collected other official materials generated by government to document the direct costs we all pay for incarcerating a young person.

In 33 states and jurisdictions, taxpayers can spend $100,000 a year or more on a single young person’s confinement. In contrast, community-based approaches that are individualized — based on the unique needs of each youth — and that engage the family and connect the youth to neighborhood resources can cost as little as $75 per day, or $27,375 a year.

Stay tuned. Since these per day and per year costs change over time, JPI plans to update the information governmental organizations and stakeholders have provided about what it currently costs to incarcerate a young person in their jurisdiction as frequently as possible.

But the direct costs are just the tip of the iceberg of what it costs all of us when we incarcerate young people.

Research commissioned by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the White House Council for Community Solutions estimated that it costs taxpayers trillions of dollars every year when we fail to connect millions of 16- to 24-year-olds to school and work opportunities. That’s because the result is that they pay less taxes, rely more on public assistance and experience more negative outcomes throughout their lives.

In “Sticker Shock,” we developed an estimate of the long-term costs of confinement that include the cost to victims and taxpayers due to the increased likelihood that a young person will commit a new offense in the future, the cost of lost educational opportunities and its implications for young people’s ability to work and pay taxes, their reliance on public assistance and the cost when young people are more likely to come into harm’s way while confined.

The estimate shows that, each year, the U.S. incurs an estimated $8 billion to $21 billion in long-term costs for the confinement of young people. Given the trillions of dollars estimated to be lost on those 16- to 24-year-olds, $8 billion to $21 billion is a conservative estimate.

The “youth deincarceration” trend has coincided with a decrease in crime and with policy changes in juvenile justice. Absent policy change and the crime trends — if youth confinement hadn’t decreased recently — the estimated costs for youth confinement could have been much, much higher. Had the 45 percent decrease in the number of youth confined nationwide never occurred, the estimated costs for victims and taxpayers as a result of the confinement of young people might have been in the range of $14 billion to $39 billion.

Given the long-term impacts of locking up a youth, you can draw a straight line between the hundreds of thousands of dollars we are spending to incarcerate young people right now, and the billions of dollars we spend down the road. We can save young people, their families, their communities and ourselves from shouldering these enormous costs by taking the following steps:

First, we should enhance our efforts to keep young people out of the system entirely by making bigger investments before youth become deeply justice-involved. We not only need to make bigger investments in diversion, alternatives to incarceration and community-based options to serve young people at home instead of expensive buildings, we need to make robust investments in the kind of schooling, treatment, work and training opportunities that all young people need. It’s pennywise and pound-foolish to trim juvenile justice budgets at the front end when these services will end up saving us money in the long term.

Second, from state to state, and community to community, policymakers should address all the barriers that exist to reducing reliance on confinement. The barriers are different from state-to-state, and community to community. In some places, counties lack a fiscal incentive to reduce the number of young people sent to state facilities; beyond funding for buildings, they lack the money to build alternatives in community. Some communities need to build data system to measure outcomes of various interventions.

Some communities still see too many misdemeanant youth ending up confined, and need to change laws, policies and practices to screen these young people out of the  system. Policymakers should identify and address these barriers consistent with the evidence, best practices and what can be learned from other jurisdictions. We know that community-based options are less expensive and can get better outcomes than confinement for many youth: Let’s take the roadblocks down and keep as many young people at home as possible.

Third, policymakers should work with state government and justice professionals to develop consistent standards for measuring per diem and confinement costs from place to place. Because every state (and local) juvenile justice system is different, it is a challenge to come up with a consistent way to describe these direct costs in a way that is meaningful. These costs also change over time. Absent a national standard, JPI commits to take steps to update this cost of confinement information based on what we receive from government agents in the future.

Finally, and consistent with the recommendations in the report, we need to expand research opportunities to study the long-term costs of confinement and juvenile justice system contact. The estimates developed by researchers in this arena are only a first step, and more scholarship is needed. If we provide more resources for research, and then use the findings in policy decisions, we could have a transformative effect on juvenile justice in ways that would help young people succeed, save taxpayers money and result in safer and stronger communities.

~~  Amanda Petteruti and Jason Ziedenberg ~~

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report - 12.08.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Tuesday, December 02, 2014 Chief Judge Jack Alsop heard 2 juvenile matters and continued a civil bench trial with no date scheduled yet.


On Monday, December 08, 2014, he presided over his monthly motion day and heard 10 juveniles.


•  A pretrial hearing was heard in State of West Virginia vs. Gerald Adkins with its final probation revocation hearing set for Monday, January 12, 2015 at 10:30 AM.

Adkins is represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Ross Lee Miller

He was before the Court for arraignment and he entered pleas of not guilty to all charges against him.

His pretrial will be Friday, January 23, 2015 at 10:30 AM and his trial will be on Wednesday, February 18, 2015.

Miller was represented by Eric Hensil of Clarksburg standing in for Gentilozzi.


•  Also appearing to show cause why the $15,000.00 bond posted should not be revoked was Jim Ball of B&B Bonding.

Judge Alsop ordered him to pay $2000.00 to the Clerk within 10 days for failing to have Miller in court for arraignment.

Jim Ball paid the $2000.00 to the Clerk upon going and getting a cashier’s check.


•  In the case of Sterling Jewelers Inc. vs. Nelson McCloy Jr.

Plaintiff’s attorney (Marsha Dailey of Mapother & Mapother) informed the Court that an order of dismissal was in the mail.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Kimberly Jean Swiger

She was before the Court for sentencing and asked for probation, which motion was denied.

Due to her age, Judge Alsop deferred sentencing and sent her for 6 months to 2 years at Anthony Correctional Center for Youthful Offenders and placed her in the custody of the Department Of Corrections.

She was represented by Andrew Chattin from Charleston.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Nathanielle Butler

He was further arraigned on this day after appearing with his court appointed attorney Eric Hensil.

He entered pleas of not guilty to the charges against him and his pretrial is on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 2:00 PM and his trial will be on Tuesday, February 24, 2015.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Brandon Rose

He had served his minimum sentence on home confinement for failure to register and was released and admitted to probation for 12 months.

After being drug tested he was free to go but will be under the supervision of Mike Haley, probation officer.

Rose was represented by Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon.

GFP - 12.10.2014
CommunityGilmer CountyGlenvilleCourt News(1) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~


As I witness many of the same names and the same ole same ole court proceedings always highly questionable in Gilmer County one can’t help but wonder what happened to that special investigation into the wrongful death of FRED HILL. It has been reported that an eyewitness to the MURDER of FRED HILL exists and that person was quickly arrested and stuck far away in the WV system as soon as it was found out that the secret had been revealed.

FIVE YEARS ago TODAY was Basil Fred Hill’s last day on planet earth alive. How convenient it was to find his body four months later in the river behind the home of Sheriff Metz who tried to run a fake document by us, and was still allowed to be in the election for magistrate. Can you believe the crime that would have been allowed if the powers that be would have gotten their way that election day? Evil is as evil does in Glenville.

By Concerned Citizens of Gilmer County  on  12.10.2014

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Gilmer County Family Court Report – 12.02.14

The Gilmer Free Press

Gilmer County Family Court Judge Larry Whited presided over Family Court in Gilmer County on Wednesday, December 02, 2014.

•  Holly Puffenbarger (40) of Glenville, WV divorced from John Puffenbarger (46) of Sutton, WV.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report - 11.19.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, November 19, 2014 Chief Judge Jack Alsop appeared in Gilmer County at 1:00 PM and heard 1 juvenile case and 1 fugitive from justice case.


•  Juan Barrera was wanted by the state of NY and waived extradition back there.

Authorities have until 4:00 PM on Tuesday, December 02, 2014 to pick Barrera up at Central Regional Jail or he will be released.

He was represented by Christen Justice of Sissonville.

Gilmer County Family Court Report – 11.19.14

The Gilmer Free Press

Gilmer County Family Court Judge Larry Whited presided over Family Court in Gilmer County on Wednesday, November 19, 2014.


•  Five cases were heard that Child Advocate will prepare orders in.


•  One domestic violence proceeding was heard and granted.


•  Two cases had temporary orders entered and a third had an order for genetic testing entered.


•  One divorce was continued until Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report - 11.14.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, November 12, 2014 Chief Judge Jack Alsop indoctrinated the petit/magistrate jurors.

Three jurors failed to appear after being summoned by the clerk.

Judge Alsop directed a summons be issued and served by the Sheriff for them to appear at 9:00 AM. Thursday, November 13, 2014 to show cause why they failed to appear.


At 9:35 AM a jury trial in the case of

•  State of West Virginia vs. Dwight Bullough

began with the clerk giving the preliminary oath to the petit jurors.

After individual voir dire of jurors and the attorneys making their strikes the trial began at 11:05 AM.

The state by her prosecutor gave the opening statement and at 11:15 AM the first witness was called to testify.

After the 2nd witness testified Alsop excused the jury for their lunch hour at 11:55 AM and at 1:00 PM they reported back and the third witness testified.

After the 4th witness testified the state rested its case at 1:35 PM.

After a recess the defense called 2 witnesses and rested at 2:16 PM and a recess was taken while matters were taken up outside the presence of the jury.

At 2:33 PM the Judge read the instructions and charge to the jury and at 2:50 closing arguments began.

At 3:05 PM the jury went to their jury room to deliberate and at 4:18 PM they returned to the Court room with a question.

After further deliberation and being unable to reach a verdict the Judge declared a mistrial at 5:30 PM.


On Thursday, November 13, 2014 the trial of

•  State of West Virginia vs. Kimberly Demastus

was scheduled for trial but at 9:15 AM the Judge excused and the jurors except the 3 who had failed to appear on Wednesday and ordered them to call the recording after 4:00 PM on Friday to see when to report back for further service.

Then he inquired of the 3 jurors why they had failed to appear and chose not to hold them in contempt or fine them, but ordered them to be sure they reported as directed by the clerk in the future.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Demastus

She entered a Kennedy plea or “no contest” plea to 1 count of her 5 count indictment with Hough, the prosecutor electing to dismiss the remaining 4 counts.

Judge Alsop ordered a presentence investigation by Mike Haley, Gilmer County Probation Officer, and set sentencing for Monday, January 12, 2015 at 9:50 AM.


•  Four juvenile matters were heard.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Christopher Debarr

He was before the Court for arraignment and entered not guilty pleas to his 2 count indictment.

His bond was reduced to $10,000.00 good and sufficient surety to be approved the clerk and home confinement with electronic monitoring and he must reside with his father if released.

He will have a pretrial hearing Friday, January 23, 2015 at 1:30 PM and his trial is set for Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 9:00 AM.

He is represented by Christopher Moffatt of Charleston.


•  State of West Virginiavs. James Randall Bailey

He was before the Court, also represented by Moffatt and entered a plea of guilty to delivery of a Schedule III controlled substance.

Sentencing will be Monday, January 12, 2015 at 10:00 AM.



On Friday, November 14, 2014 Judge Richard A. Facemireheld his monthly motion day in Gilmer County.


•  A fugitive from justice, namely Michael Wayne McBride waived extradition back to the state of Virginia.

He was represented by Christopher Moffatt of Charleston and authorities in VA have until 4 PM Tuesday, November 25, 2014 to pick defendant up or Central Regional Jail will release him.


Four pleas were taken and set for sentencing as follows:

•  Lisa Sutphin represented by Clinton Bischoff of Summersville pled to count 1 of an information she allowed the prosecutor to file against her instead of doing an indictment.

She pled to conspiracy and will be sentenced at 9:45 AM on Monday, January 26, 2015.


•  Clayton James McCune pled to 2 counts, count 1 of unlawful assault (a lesser included count of the indictment charging malicious assault and to count 4 a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery.

The other counts of the indictment were dismissed by the prosecutor.

He was represented by Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon and will be sentenced on Monday, January 26, 2014 at 10:15 AM.

Later he flunked his urine screen and the Judge was prepared to send him to Central Regional Jail but after McCune pleading with the Judge he was released but must be drug tested weekly until sentencing.


•  John Patrick Paletta pled to count 4 of conspiracy and all remaining counts were dismissed.

He was represented by Christopher Moffatt and sentencing will be 10:00 AM Monday, January 26, 2015.


•  Joe Williams III pled to count 1 of conspiracy and the revocation of his bond hearing was withdrawn by the prosecutor.

He was represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton and he will be sentenced at 9:30 AM on Monday, January 26, 2015.


•  Eleven juvenile matters were heard.


•  Two sentencing were reset for Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:30 AM. (State of West Virginia vs. Christina Marks) and (State of West Virginia vs. Daniel John McCormick) will be sentenced Monday, January 26, 2015 at 10:30 AM.


•  Motion for attorney fees in an old juvenile matter were denied.


•  A motion in a criminal case was withdrawn and cancelled.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report - 11.10.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Monday, November 10, 2014 Chief Judge Jack Alsop held motion day in Gilmer County until shortly after Noon hearing 6 juvenile hearings and 2 criminal matters, namely,


•  State of West Virginia vs. James Bailey

He was represented by Christopher Moffatt of Charleston.

Pre-trial motions were taken up and later Bailey decided to enter a plea in the matter.

His plea is set for Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 10:00 AM.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Kimberly Swiger

She was represented by Andrew Chattin of Charleston entered a plea to count 3 of her indictment charging her with grand larceny.

Gerry Hough dismissed the remaining counts of the indictment against her and she will be sentenced Monday, December 08, 2014 at 11:00 AM after probation officer Mike Haley does a presentence investigation.



Judge Alsop dealt with 13 arraignments as follows:


•  State of West Virginia vs. Daniel Rose

He was before the Court with his attorney Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon.

After entering not guilty pleas to the 3 counts of his indictment his pretrial will be at 9:00 AM on Friday, January 23, 2015 and his trial is first on Tuesday, February 10, 2015.

Hinkle asked that Rose be released on a personal recognizance bond but the prosecuting attorney objected and his motion was denied.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Janice Collins

She appeared with her counsel, Christina Flanigan.

However since Flanigan has been recently elected prosecutor in Lewis County and will assume her duties there next week she had to be relieved from representing Collins.

She informed the Court that her one of the attorneys at her firm of Nanners and Willett of Buckhannon will be assuming representation of Collins.

Her pretrial will be at 9:30 AM on Friday, January 23, 2015 and she will be the second trial Tuesday, February 10, 2015.

She remains under the bond heretofore posted but if she wants to leave the state she must get permission from the probation officer to do so.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Wayne Joseph Roberts

He was before the Court with Flanigan being relieved as his attorney and Clinton Bischoff of Summersville being appointed to represent Roberts.

His pretrial is Friday, January 23, 2015 at 10:00 AM and his trial is 3rd on Tuesday, February 10, 2015.


•  Desirae Miller

She was before the Court and was represented by Eric Hensil standing in for Timothy Gentilozzi.

She entered pleas of not guilty to the 7 counts of her indictment and will have a pretrial hearing Friday, January 23, 2015 at 10:00 AM and is the fourth trial on Tuesday, February 10, 2015.


•  David Junior Marks

He was before the Court for arraignment with Bryan Hinkle standing in for Daniel Armstrong of Gassaway.

Bond was reduced to $40,000.00 good and sufficient surety to be approved by the Clerk and he is set for pretrial at 10:00 AM Friday, January 23, 2015 and is the 5th trial set for Tuesday, February 10, 2015.


•  Tyler Sutphin

He appeared for arraignment with his attorney Flanigan.

After she withdrew from the case Brian Bailey was appointed to represent him and he will have a pretrial Friday, January 23, 2015 at 10:30 AM and he will be first trial Tuesday, February 18, 2015.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Ross Lee Miller

He failed to appear for arraignment and a bench warrant was issued by the Clerk for his arrest.

Bond was set at $25,000.00 and the prosecutor is directed to have B&B Bonding report Monday, December 08, 2014 at 9:00 AM to show cause why he did not appear.

Miller was represented by Timothy Gentilozzi.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Christopher Lynn Puffenbarger

He had his bond reduced to $50,000 with home confinement.

His pretrial is Friday, January 23, 2015 at 11:00 AM and he is set first trial Thursday, February 12, 2015.

He is represented by Christopher Moffatt.


•  State of West Virginia vs. John Michael Puffenbarger

He had his bond reduced to $200,000.00 separate from Lewis County and to be hooked up on home confinement.

His pretrial is 11:30 AM Friday, January 23, 2015 with his trial being the second trial Thursday, February 12, 2015.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Nathanielle L. Butler

He was before the Court and entered pleas of not guilty to the 2 count indictment returned against him.

He posted a $10,000.00 personal recognizance bond until Friday, November 14, 2014 at 4:00 PM where he must post a $10,000.00 bond with good and sufficient surety to be approved by the Clerk.

His arraignment was continued until Monday, December 08, 2014 at 11:20 AM to allow him to hire an attorney.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Kyle Britner

He failed to appear for arraignment and a bench warrant was issued to his arrest and bond was set at $10,000.00.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Julia Ann Mollohan

She was before the Court for arraignment and her pretrial is Friday, January 23, 2015 at 1:00 PM and her trial is Thursday, February 19, 2015.

She is represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton and her bond is $30,000.00.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Christopher Debarr

He did not appear for arraignment and it was reset for Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 10:00 AM.

He is also represented by Christopher Moffatt.


•  Testimony was taken in one civil matter and R. Terry Butcher was appointed special commissioner to post $50,000.00 bond with the clerk and sell the land after advertising it in the local paper.

The case was James Bleigh, et ux vs. Daniel Collins et al.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report - 11.06.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, November 05, 2014 Chief Judge Jack Alsop opened his regular November term of Court in Gilmer County.


•  After indoctrinating the grand jurors Judge Alsop sent them to their jury room at 9:43 AM to deliberate upon their indictments and presentments while he heard civil matters in open Court.


Three civil cases were dismissed, namely:

•  Automotive Finance Corporation vs. Tater Knob Preowned Vehicles and Christine Smith

•  Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital vs. Angela Nicole Blessard

•  Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital vs. Christina Jane Wilson


•  Judge Alsop also dismissed the civil case between Julie Conrad vs. The Council of Senior Citizens of Gilmer County after taking the matter under advisement after a hearing on Monday, August 11, 2014.

This case was dismissed with prejudice.


Two other civil cases were reset for status on Monday, December 08, 2014

•  Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital vs. Roseanna Lynn Bush

(Which later a final judgment order was FAX’d to the Clerk) and will be presented to Judge Alsop on Thursday November 06, 2014for completion of this case.


•  Sterling Jewelers Inc. vs. Nelson G. McCloy
Was also reset for status on Monday, December 08, 2014 at 10:30 AM.


•  Another civil mater the attorney reported to Judge Alsop that he will try to obtain service on defendant and in the last civil case on the today’s docket a default judgment order will be sent regarding WVU Medical Corporation vs. Patrick J. Buckner.


•  A juvenile matter was rescheduled for Tuesday, December 02, 2014 at 1:00 PM.


At 12:25 the grand jurors returned to the Court room and returned 13 Indictments as follows:


•  State of West Virginia vs. Daniel David Troy Rose

For malicious wounding and 2 counts of domestic battery.  He is represented by Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon and is in jail under $5,000.00 bond.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Janice Anne Collins

She was indicted for financial exploitation of an elderly person.

She is represented by Christina Flanigan and is free on a $10,000.00 property bond.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Wayne Joseph Roberts

He was indicted for 7 counts, namely 2 counts of attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory, 2 counts possession of substances to be used as precursor to manufacture of methamphetamine, 2 counts of conspiracy and 1 count of entering without breaking.

He is also represented by Christina Flanigan and remains in jail under $150,000.00 bond.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Desirae Krystene Miller

She was indicted for 2 counts of attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory, 2 counts of possession of substances to be used as precursor to manufacture of methamphetamine, 2 counts of conspiracy and 1 count of entering without breaking.

She is represented by Timothy Gentilozzi of Clarksburg and is free on $125,000.00 property bond.


•  State of West Virginia vs. David Junior Marks

He was indicted for 2 counts of attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory, 2 counts of possession of substances to be used as precursor to manufacture of methamphetamine, 2 counts of conspiracy and 1 count of entering without breaking.

He is represented by Daniel Armstrong of Gassaway and remains in jail with a bond set at $125,000.00.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Tyler L. Sutphin

He was indicted on 5 counts as follows: 1 count of conspiracy, 1 count of attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory, 3 counts of possession of a controlled substance (a misdemeanor)0

He is represented by Christina Flanigan and is free on $15,000.00 bond posed by Perry Bonding.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Ross Lee Miller

He was indicted for 1 count of conspiracy, 1 count of attempting to operate a clandestine drug laboratory and 1 count of possession of a controlled substance ( a misdemeanor).

He is represented by Gentilozzi and is free on $15,000.00 B&B bond.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Christopher Lynn Puffenbarger

He was indicted for 2 counts of sexual assault in the first degree and 2 counts of incest.

He is represented by Christopher Moffatt of Charleston and remains in jail with $100,000.00 bond set.


•  State of West Virginia vs. John Michael Puffenbarger

He was indicted for 3 counts of sexual assault in the first degree, 3 counts of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian or person in a position of trust and 3 counts of incest.

He is represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton and remains in jail under $500,000.00 bond.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Nathanielle L. Butler

She was indicted for 1 count of delivery of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a school and 1 count of conspiracy. A summons was issued for defendant to appear at arraignment.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Kyle C. Britner

He was indicted for delivery of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a school and 1 count of conspiracy.

A summons was issued for defendant to appear at arraignment.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Julia Ann Mollohan

She was indicted for 1 felony count of fleeing, 1 felony count of destruction of property and 1 misdemeanor count of reckless driving and 2 misdemeanor count of battery of a police officer.

She is represented by David Karickhoff of Sutton.

Her bond is set at $94,000.00 and she remains in jail.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Christopher David DeBarr

He was indicted for 1 count of entering without breaking and 1 count of grand larceny.

Moffatt represents him and his bond is $25,000.00.


All inductees who had attorneys were notified by FAX to their attorney of arraignment day being Monday, November 10, 2014 at 1:00 PM.

The other 2 without attorneys had a summons to appear issued for them by the clerk.



On Thursday, November 06, 2014, 22 capias’ were renewed for criminals whose cases were called by the Judge and they failed to appear to answer charges pending against them.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Kim Demastus

Pre-trial motions were heard in her case and all were denied by the Judge with the exception of the request from her attorney for the petit juror questionnaires.

Judge Alsop granted the motion and the Circuit Clerk’s office provided copies to Mark Hudnall (her attorney) before he left the Courthouse.

Her trial is scheduled for the 2nd trial on Wednesday, November 12, 2014.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Dwight Bullough

This is the first case set for trial Wednesday, November 12, 2014.

He is represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway.


•  State of West Virginia vs. James Bailey

He was before the Court for status and further hearing was set for Monday, November 10, 2014 at 10:45 AM.

He is represented by Christopher Moffatt of Charleston.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Kimberly Swiger

She will enter a plea at 11:00 AM on Monday, November 10, 2014.

She is represented by Andrew Chattin of Charleston.


•  State of West Virginia vs. James Ash

He will have further hearing Monday, December 08 2014 at 10:45 AM.

He is represented by Brian Bailey of Horner, WV.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Isaac Grounds

He was before the Court after being returned from Anthony Center.

He waived an evidentiary hearing and was sentenced to not less than 1 nor more than 10 years in the penitentiary and custody was transferred to the Department Of Corrections with credit for time served.

He was represented by Kevin Hughart of Sissonville.


•  Three juvenile hearings were heard.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report - 10.27.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Monday, October 27, 2014 Judge Richard A. Facemire presided over his motion day in Gilmer County.


•  Seven juvenile matters were held.


•  State of West Virginia vs. James Christopher Miller

He entered pleas of guilty to 3 felony counts namely, attempting to operate a clandestine meth lab, conspiracy and altering pseudoephedrine.

All other counts were dismissed by the prosecutor, along with bound over cases pending against Miller from magistrate court.

Miller will be sentenced at 9:00 AM on Monday, December 22, 2014.

Valentina Wheeler of Charleston represented Miller.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Edward Cottrill II

He was before the Court for sentencing and was sentenced to 1-5 years in the penitentiary with all but 30 days of said sentence suspended and Cottrill self-reported to Central Regional Jail at 6:00 PM Friday, October 31, 2014 to serve those 30 days there.

Upon his release he must enroll in an intensive drug treatment program for 6 to 9 months and will then be on 5 years’ probation.

Judge Facemire did not impose a fine but did order Cottrill to pay the usual court costs within 18 months and perform 100 hours community service per year of probation.

He will also be under a 9:00 PM curfew after his release.

•  Clinton Bischoff of Summersville was counsel for the defendant.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Lisa Fay Sutphin

She was before the Court for a bond reduction and despite the prosecutor’s objection, Judge Facemire reduced her bond to $35,000.00 with home confinement.

She is also to have NO CONTACT with her co-defendants.

She was also represented by Bischoff.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Stephanie Smarr

She was once again before the Court seeking permission to go to a drug treatment program, which motion the Court granted.

Her sentencing remains on the January, 2015 docket if she completes the program.

She was represented by hristina Flanigan of Buckhannon.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Virginia Richards Sears

She was before the Court also represented by Christina Flanigan asking to be released on probation again, which motion the Court denied.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Joe Williams II

He will enter a plea on Friday, November 14, 2014 at 9:00 AM.

David Karickhoff of Sutton represents him.


Judgment was entered in one civil case.


•  State of West Virginia vs. William D. Bullough

He was before the Court objecting to his trial being continued to the November term.

He was represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway and Judge Facemire informed Grindo that he managed his own docket and he didn’t have to give him a reason for the continuance, but did inform him that he had 12 trials set the day of Bullough’s trial and he chose to try another case in another county.

SUIT FILED AGAINST COMPANY THAT PRODUCED CANCELED DIRTY GIRL MUD RUN

The Gilmer Free Press

Morrisey’s lawsuit alleges race’s cancellation was part of a plan to force the sale of the Dirty Girl brand

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced today that he filed a lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court against Human Movement Inc., the Colorado-based company that contracted with the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau to produce the 2014 Dirty Girl Mud Run in Charleston.

According to the lawsuit filed by Morrisey, Human Movement allegedly was engaged in a protracted buyout of the Dirty Girl Mud Run brand from 100 LLC. As the sale began to falter, Human Movement along with its principal owners Jeff Suffolk and Alta Equity Partners allegedly began leveraging the cancellation of the July 26 Charleston event to force 100 LLC into an untenable financial position to force the sale of the company. The Complaint alleges Human Movement broke a last minute agreement between it, the Charleston CVB, and 100 LLC in order to force the event to be canceled. Human Movement succeeded in buying the brand name immediately after the event’s cancellation.

Within 24 hours of the announced cancellation, more than 250 consumer complaints had been filed with the Attorney General’s Office, and continued to be filed in the following days.

“Many people of this State spent money and made plans to take part in this event and promote a charitable cause. They did not deserve to be treated in this manner,” Attorney General Morrisey said.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief from Human Movement and the other defendants, as well as equitable relief and civil penalties.

“Despite our previous agreements with 100 LLC and Eventbrite, race participants are still out other expenses they paid in anticipation of the event,” Morrisey said. “It is our hope to make them whole.”

The Attorney General’s Office and 100 LLC reached an agreement in August to refund the registration fees to approximately 700 consumers who registered directly with them to participate in the race. Third-party contractor Eventbrite, who facilitated ticket sales for the race, also entered into an agreement to provide refunds to those who registered for the race through their site. While that amounted to more than $200,000, it did not provide refunds for other expenses incurred by consumers registered for the event.

The complaint seeks to order Human Movement, Suffolk, and Alta to pay a civil penalty of $5,000 for each violation of the Consumer Credit and Protection Act, and pay the State of West Virginia its attorneys’ fees and costs associated with the investigation and civil action.

A copy of the lawsuit can be viewed by Clicking H E R E

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report - 10.21.14

The Gilmer Free Press

Chief Judge Jack Alsop held Court in Gilmer County on Tuesday, October 21, 2014.


•  One Fugitive from justice, namely Ramon Pizzara Jr., waived extradition back to the state of Pennsylvania.

Authorities there have until 4:00 PM on Thursday, October 30, 2014 to pick Pizzara up or Central Regional Jail will release him.

He was represented by Christina Flanigan of Buckhannon.


•  Five juveniles were heard and reset.


•  One adoption was granted.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Dwight Bullough

He was before the Court on the state’s motion.

Judge Alsop denied the motion and instructed the prosecutor to issue a subpoena duces tecum for trial.

Bullough was represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Mose Chadwell

He was before the Court for reconsideration of sentence and Judge Alsop granted his release and placed him on 4 years probation.

Judge Alsop also directed he pay all court costs (which Chadwell has already paid the Clerk in full) plus his court appointed attorney fees (which have yet to be submitted to the Clerk).

Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon represented Chadwell.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Julia Mollohan

She was before the Court for motions filed by defense counsel, David Karickhoff of Sutton.

Judge Alsop granted her motion for mental exam but took the motion to reduce bond under advisement.


•  Patrick Collins was before the Court for a habeas corpus hearing, but due to him needing transcripts of prior hearings Judge Alsop continued the hearing to Tuesday, February 03, 2015 at 9:00 AM.

Christopher Moffatt of Charleston is stand by counsel to assist Collins.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Wayne Roberts

He was before the Court for bond reduction, which motion Judge Alsop denied.

Roberts was also represented by Christina Flanigan.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Robert Hacker

He had a hearing regarding him being transferred to a more convenient location to enable his attorney to have easier access to him.

Judge Alsop also took that under advisement.

Hacker is represented by the Public Defender’s office in Charleston.


•  A civil bench trial scheduled for 1:00 PM was settled and dismissed prior to the hearing.


•  Judge Alsop also set the docket for the upcoming November term.

GRAND JURY will be November 5th at 9:00 AM Criminal docket call will be on Wednesday, November 06, 2014 at 9:00 AM.


•  Arraignments will be held at 1:00 PM on Monday, November10, 2014.


•  Juvenile status conferences will follow at 3:00 PM on Monday.


•  Petit jury indoctrination and jury trials begin on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 9:00 AM.

Gilmer County Family Court Report – 10.22.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, October 22, 2014 Family Court Judge Larry Whited held Family Court in Gilmer County.

•  He granted one divorce.


•  Tiffany Montgomery (24) of Linn, WV divorced Matthew S. Montgomery (25) of Sand Fork, WV.


•  One domestic was dismissed, one was continued.


•  Three other divorces were not finalized.

Magistrate Court Report - 10.22.14

The Gilmer Free Press
Civil Case(s):

Plaintiff Defendant Filed Served Amount
Smith Land Company, LLC Roy Wiant 10.14.14 $1,386.20
Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital John Robert Carder 10.15.14 $1,982.10
Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital Glen Richard Grove 10.15.14 $3,641.28
Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital Jazzmin Lee Langman 10.15.14 $577.14
Glenville Auto Repair Brittany Bell 10.06.14 10.07.14 $944.66
10.07.14 Plea of Guilty. Fine $25.00   Court Cost  $160.25  WCF  $25.00    WCP  $969.66    Total  $1179.91 - 6 Months Payment Scheduled
Glenville Auto Repair Brittany Bell 10.06.14 10.07.14 $350.00
10.07.14 Plea of Guilty. Fine $25.00   Court Cost  $160.25  WCF  $25.00    WCP  $375.00   Total  $585.25 - 6 Months Payment Scheduled
Glenville Auto Repair Brittany Bell 10.06.14 10.07.14 $200.00
10.07.14 Plea of Guilty. Fine $25.00   Court Cost  $160.25  WCF  $25.00    WCP  $225.00   Total  $435.25 - 6 Months Payment Scheduled



The Gilmer Free Press
Misdemeanor - Criminal Case(s):

Complainant Defendant Offense Date Warrant
State of West Virginia Brittani Dawn Bell Obtaining Goods by False Pretense (6) 10.07.14 10.07.14
Bond $2,500.00
State of West Virginia Sharyce Lynna Warren Obstructing An Officer 10.07.14 10.07.14
Bond $1,000.00
State of West Virginia Sharyce Lynna Warren Disorderly Conduct 10.07.14 10.07.14
Bond $1,000.00
State of West Virginia Derrick Allen Abeare Possession of Controlled Substance Less Than 15 Grams 09.09.14 10.07.14
10.07.14  Plea of Guilty Entered. Placed on 6-Month Probation Total Fine $190.25 - 6 Months to Pay
State of West Virginia Kenton Andrew Nicholas Possession of Controlled Substance Less Than 15 Grams 09.24.14 10.09.14
10.09.14  Plea of Guilty Entered. Placed on 2 years unsupervised Probation 6-Month Jail Suspension Total Fine $222.25
State of West Virginia Kenton Andrew Nicholas Conspiracy 09.24.14 10.09.14
10.09.14  Plea of Guilty Entered. Placed on 2 years unsupervised Probation 6-Month Jail Suspension Total Fine $297.25
State of West Virginia Harrison James Jenkins Reckless Driving 10.09.14 10.09.14
10.09.14 Plea of Guilty Entered. (0 Days Jail Suspended. 1 Year Probation.  Total Fine  $422.25
State of West Virginia Nathan A. Hardy Driving Under Influence 10.17.14 10.17.14
Bond $3,500.00
State of West Virginia Nathan A. Hardy Underage Consumption 10.17.14 10.17.14
Bond $3,500.00
State of West Virginia Nathan A. Hardy Possession of Controlled Substance Less Than 15 Grams 10.17.14 10.17.14
Bond $3,500.00
Somerville Exxon Mathew J. Ellis Worthless Check Complaint 10.20.14 10.21.14
$45.43    Paid $265.68  6-Month  Payment
China 1 Sheila Ann Marks Worthless Check Complaint 10.20.14 10.25.14
$38.55   
State of West Virginia Yumus Clinton Roberson III Reckless Driving 10.17.14 10.20.14
Bond $500.00   
State of West Virginia Kelsey Nicholas Possession of Controlled Substance (Marijuana) 09.24.14 10.20.14
 
State of West Virginia Kelsey Nicholas Conspire to Possess A Controlled Substance 09.24.14 10.20.14
State of West Virginia Jeffrey Alan Mihelich Obstructing an Officer 05.11.14 10.20.14
Plea of Guilty Entered. 6 Month Jail Suspended. 1 Year Unsupervised Probation  Total Fine  $440.25
State of West Virginia Yumus Roberson Obstructing An Officer 05.11.14 10.20.14
Plea of Guilty Entered. 6 Month Jail Suspended. 1 Year Unsupervised Probation  Total Fine  $440.25 6 Month to Pay
State of West Virginia John Wesley Jordan Fail to Register as Sex Offender 10.20.14 10.20.14
Bond $5,000.00



The Gilmer Free Press
WV State Police Citation(s):

Defendant Issued Charge(s)
Patrick Wayne Gower 10.04.14 Trespassing
Jacob Tyler Kennelly 10.10.14 Speeding
Hamric Samantha Lynn 10.07.14 Failure to Maintain Control
Freddie Perry II 10.03.14 Left of Center
Ryan Michael Sims 10.07.14 Driving Suspended/Revoked Non-DUI
Failure to Drive with Due Care
Katelyn Dawn Weese 10.11.14 Operator’s
Jayson Bradley White 10.03.14 Driving Under The Influence - 2nd Offense
Kenneth Ray Young 10.04.14 Driving Under The Influence



Gilmer County Sheriff Citation(s):
Defendant Issued Charge(s)
Heather Ann Black 10.21.14 Aiding Adult in Custody (Give Tobacco)
Dakota C. Burkhammer 10.17.14 Left of Center
Nathan Andrew Hardy 10.17.14 Underage Consumption



City of Glenville Citation(s):
Defendant Issued Charge(s)
Michael Kevin Miles 10.14.14 Wrong Way - One Way
Yumus C. Roberson 10.17.14 Reckless Driving
Earon Brandy Settles 10.07.14 Shoplifting
Casey Lee Small 10.17.14 Color of Lights
Reckless Driving

FCI Gilmer Inmates Sentenced After Getting Caught in Possession of Heroin

The Gilmer Free Press

Two inmates at FCI Gilmer were convicted and sentenced after they were discovered in possession of heroin.

Antonio Whitehead, age 27, of Macon, Georgia, and Brian Carnegie, age 29, of Cleveland, Ohio, each enter guilty pleas on Wednesday to one count of possession of a prohibited object.

Whitehead and Carnegie, who are both currently incarcerated on drug trafficking charges, were each sentenced to an additional six months in prison.

The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Special Investigative Services Unit at FCI Gilmer. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Morgan prosecuted the cases on behalf of the government.

U.S. District Judge Irene M. Keeley presided.

Roane County Couple Says Company Owes Them $200K

The Gilmer Free Press

The WV Record:

Two Roane County residents allege they were not paid more than $200,000 they are owed under a contract.

Contractor Dwayne and Theresa Hickman allege they entered into a contract with defendant Engle Management on June 27, 2012. However, Engle failed to make payments due under the contract, according to the complaint filed September 02 in Cabell Circuit Court.

“As of January 30, 2014, based upon information provided to plaintiffs, the amount owed to plaintiffs is $264,936.56,” the suit states. “However, plaintiffs do not have access to the books and records of Engle to confirm that this is the full amount due them.”

In their complaint, the Hickmans seek the balance they allege they are owed, plus damages, attorney fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Angela D. Herdman of Spilman, Thomas and Battle in Charleston will represent them.

Circuit Judge Christopher Chiles has been assigned to the case.

Cabell Circuit Court case number 14-C-612
This entry was posted in Cabell County, Contract, Issues, News and tagged Angela D. Herdman, Dwayne Hickman, Engle Management, Spilman Thomas & Battle PLLC, Theresa Hickman
.

~~  Kelly Holleran - WV Record ~~

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report - 10.02.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Tuesday, September 30, 2014 Chief Judge Jack Alsop heard a juvenile matter in Gilmer County and one fugitive from justice case.


Treyvon Miller waived extradition back to Maryland and authorities there have until 4:00 PM on Friday, October 10, 2014 to pick him up or he will be released from Central Regional Jail.

Miller was represented by Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon.




Judge Richard A. Facemire held Court in Gilmer County on Thursday, October 02, 2014.


•  He heard 3 juvenile matters.


•  He also heard a revocation/show cause hearing in a criminal case but decided not to forfeit the bond in the case of State of West Virginia vs. James C. Milller.

Miller was represented by Valentina Wheeler of Charleston and a pre-trial hearing will be conducted in the case in Braxton County on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 1:15PM.


•  State of West Virginia vs. William Wayne Cottrell

He was before the Court for sentencing and was sentenced to 2-10 years with his sentence to run concurrently with the sentence he is currently serving out of Calhoun County.

Judge Facemire did not fine Cottrell but ordered him to pay court costs within 18 months of his release.

Clinton Bischoff represented Cottrell.


Clinton Bischoff represented 3 others who were sentenced today, namely,


•  John Walton Jackson who was sentenced 1-10 on count 1 and 1-10 on count 2 to run consecutively for a total of 2-20 years.

Judge Facemire denied defense motion to allow Jackson to self report at a later date and also motion to reconsider and run sentences concurrently.


•  Also sentenced was Brittiny D. Miller who was sentenced to 1-5 in the penitentiary with the sentence suspended and she was placed on 5 years probation with no fine but she must also pay court costs within 18 months.

She also must pay the typical $11.00 per month to the Circuit Clerk for community correction and probation fees.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Traci Nichole Pyles

She was ordered to undergo 60 days diagnosis and classification at a facility and to have substance abuse evaluation prior to her sentencing on Monday, January 26, 2015 at 9:15 AM.

She was represented by Timothy Gentilozzi of Clarksburg and may self report when arrangements have been made.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Christina Marks

She pled to count 2 of her indictment charging conspiracy to 3rd offense shoplifting.

The state dismissed count 1 of her indictment and she will be sentenced on Friday, November 21, 2014 at 10:20 AM.

She was represented by Christina Flanigan of Buckhannon.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Daniel John McCormick

He will enter a plea in Braxton County on Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 1:15PM.

He is represented by Matthew Thorn of Morgantown.

Gilmer County Family Court Report – 10.01.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, October 01, 2014 Family Court Judge Larry Whited held Family Court in Gilmer County.

•  He dismissed one domestic violence petition and granted another.

•  Several matters involving the child advocate bureau were heard with orders to be entered at a later date.

Ritchie County Woman Says Fracking Damaged Her Property

The Gilmer Free Press

A Ritchie County resident has filed suit against the oil and gas companies she alleges harmed her land when they drilled horizontally into it in an attempt to retrieve the resource.

OilGasVickie Nutter says she owns a home at 4404 Oxford Road in Pullman, which is close to the oil and natural gas drilling activities of defendants Antero, based in Denver, and Hall Drilling of Ellenboro.

The defendant companies utilize a process known as fracking to retrieve the oil and natural gas from the ground. Fracking is a controversial process that releases chemicals into the ground under extreme pressure in an effort to dislodge the gas, according to the complaint filed August 25 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

There are many dangerous environmental concerns that accompany the fracking process, the suit states. For instance, natural gas is often burned during the process, which results in excessive emissions of hydrogen sulfide and other chemicals, the complaint says.

“[The] defendants’ natural gas activities, acts, omissions, and instrumentalities that are within defendants’ exclusive control, are dangerous, and have caused grave harm to plaintiff,” the suit states.

Because of the defendants’ actions, Nutter alleges she suffered from an impaired ability to enjoy her property, including property damage, substantial discomfort, inconvenience, annoyance and a lost peace of mind, among other harmful side effects.

Although the defendants have known of the dangerous propensity of their activities, they have failed to resolve the issue, according to the complaint.

Nutter alleges negligence against the defendants, saying they failed to prevent injury to others, failed to exercise reasonable care, failed to take affirmative action to control or avoid increasing danger and failed to use ordinary care to protect others from peril that is under the defendants’ control.

Nutter seeks an unspecified judgment, plus punitive damages, costs and other relief the court deems just.

She will be represented by Aaron Harrah and James C. Peterson of Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee and Deitzler in Charleston, and Anthony J. Majestro of Powell and Majestro in Charleston.

Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib Jr. has been assigned to the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 14-C-1529
This entry was posted in Issues, Kanawha County, News, Personal Injury, Ritchie County and tagged Aaron Harrah, Antero, Anthony J. Majestro, Hall Drilling, Hill Peterson Carper Bee & Deitzler PLLC, James C. Peterson, Powell and Majestro, Vickie Nutter.

~~  Kelly Holleran - The Record  ~~

Harrison County Woman Blames Fracking for Damages

The Gilmer Free Press

A Harrison County resident has filed suit against the oil and gas companies that she alleges harmed her land when they drilled horizontally into it in an attempt to retrieve the resource.

Judith K. Metheny says she owns a home at 2213 Isaacs Creek Road in Lost Creek, which is close to the oil and natural gas drilling activities of defendants Antero Appalachian and Hall Drilling of Ellenboro.

The defendant companies utilize a process known as fracking to retrieve the oil and natural gas from the ground. Fracking is a controversial process that releases chemicals into the ground under extreme pressure in an effort to dislodge the gas, according to the complaint.

There are many dangerous environmental concerns that accompany the fracking process, the suit states. For instance, natural gas is often burned during the process, which results in excessive emissions of hydrogen sulfide and other chemicals, the complaint says.

“The defendants’ natural gas activities, acts, omissions, and instrumentalities [that] are within defendants’ exclusive control, are dangerous and have caused grave harm to plaintiffs,” the suit states.

Because of the defendants’ actions, Metheney alleges she suffered from an impaired ability to enjoy her property, including property damage, substantial discomfort, inconvenience, annoyance and a lost peace of mind among other harmful side effects.

Although the defendants have known of the dangerous propensity of their activities, they have failed to resolve the issue, according to the complaint.

Metheny alleges negligence against the defendants, saying they failed to prevent injury to others, failed to exercise reasonable care, failed to take affirmative action to control or avoid increasing danger and failed to use ordinary care to protect others from peril that is under the defendants’ control.

Metheny seeks an unspecified judgment, plus punitive damages, costs and other relief the court deems just.

She will be represented by Aaron Harrah and James C. Peterson of Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee and Deitzler in Charleston, and Anthony J. Majestro of Powell and Majestro in Charleston.

Circuit Judge Charles E. King has been assigned to the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 14-C-1548
This entry was posted in Harrison County, Issues, Kanawha County, News, Personal Injury and tagged Aaron Harrah, Antero Appalachian, Anthony J. Majestro, Hall Drilling, Hill Peterson Carper Bee & Deitzler PLLC, James C. Peterson, Judith K. Metheny, Powell and Majestro.

~~  Kelly Holleran - The Record  ~~

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 09.25.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Thursday, September 25, 2014 Chief Judge Jack Alsop came to Glenville to hear a juvenile matter, which unfortunately had to be reset for Tuesday, September 30, 2014.


One fugitive from justice (William M. Warren) waived extradition back to the state of Maryland.

Warren was represented by Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon and authorities in Maryland have until 4:00 PM Tuesday, October 07, 2014 to pick Warren up at Central Regional Jail or he will be released.

Gilmer County Magistrate Court Report - 09.23.14

The Gilmer Free Press
Civil Case(s):

Plaintiff Defendant Filed Served Amount
Edith Ellyson Ross Lee Marks 09.12.14
09.18.14: Respondent to Retain the Possession of Property.
Glenville Auto Repait Chris Steele 09.15.14 $2,055.76
Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital Harlie Nicole Phares 09.17.14 $1,014.56
Glenville Auto Tony Armstrong 09.22.14 $768.06
Glenville Auto Justin Self 09.22.14 $1,048.95



The Gilmer Free Press
Misdemeanor - Criminal Case(s):

Complainant Defendant Offense Date Warrant
State of West Vieginia Delbert L. King Accessory After The Fact-Fleeing DUI 09.05.14 09.05.14
Bond: $10,000.00
State of West Vieginia Julia A. Mollahan Destruction of Property 09.08.14 09.08.14
Bond: $30,000.00; 09.11.14 Probable Cause Found * Bound Over to Gilmer County Circuit Court * Motion to Reduce Bond Denied.
State of West Vieginia Julia A. Mollahan Felony Fleeing 09.08.14 09.08.14
Bond: $30,000.00; 09.11.14 Probable Cause Found * Bound Over to Gilmer County Circuit Court * Motion to Reduce Bond Denied.
State of West Vieginia Julia A. Mollahan Fleeing While DUI 09.08.14 09.08.14
Bond: $30,000.00; 09.11.14 Probable Cause Found * Bound Over to Gilmer County Circuit Court * Motion to Reduce Bond Denied.
State of West Vieginia Michael Quentin Florence Receiving / Transferring Stolen Property 09.09.14
Bond: $25,000.00; 09.19.14 Bound to Gilmer County Circuit Court
State of West Vieginia Derrick Allen Abeare Cultivation of Marijuana 09.09.14
Bond: $25,000.00; 09.17.14 Motion to Waive Time Period Granted
State of West Vieginia Darius Marquis Tibbs Possession with Intent to Deliver 09.16.14 09.29.14
Bond: $15,000.00
State of West Vieginia Darius Marquis Tibbs Conspiracy 09.16.14 09.29.14
Bond: $15,000.00
State of West Vieginia Darius Marquis Tibbs Possession with Intent to Deliver Within 1000 Feet of School 09.16.14 09.29.14
Bond: $15,000.00
State of West Vieginia Edward Lynn Parsons Sexual Assault - 2nd Degree 09.19.19 09.19.19
Bond: $10,000.00
State of West Vieginia Delbert L. King Obstructing An Officer 06.05.14 09.06.14
Bond: $5,000.00
State of West Vieginia Julia A. Mollohan Reckless Driving 0908.14 09.08.14
Bond: $1,000.00; 09.11.14 Probable Cause Found * Bound Over to Gilmer County Circuit Court * Motion to Reduce Bond Denied.
State of West Vieginia Julia A. Mollohan Battery on Police Officer 0908.14 0908.14
Bond: $1,000.00; 09.11.14 Probable Cause Found * Bound Over to Gilmer County Circuit Court * Motion to Reduce Bond Denied.
State of West Vieginia Julia A. Mollohan Driving Under The Influence 0908.14 0908.14
Bond: $1,000.00; 09.11.14 Probable Cause Found * Bound Over to Gilmer County Circuit Court * Motion to Reduce Bond Denied.
State of West Vieginia Edward Lynn Parsons Domestic Battery 09.19.19
Bond: $2,000.00
State of West Vieginia Aaron Emmanuel Delilly Domestic Battery 09.19.14
Bond: $2,000.00
State of West Vieginia Gary Joe McCourt Jr. Possession of Controlled Substance < 15 Grams 09.12.14 09.19.14
Bond: $5,000.00
State of West Vieginia Grant Isaiah Williams Underage Consumption 09.20.14 09.22.14
Bond: $500.00
State of West Vieginia Thomas Evan Sandy Registration Violation 09.21.14
Bond: $500.00
State of West Vieginia Thomas Evan Sandy Expired Motor Vehicle Inspection 09.21.14
Bond: $500.00
State of West Vieginia Maria Dawn Marks Permit Suspended 2nd 09.20.14 09.22.14
Bond: $500.00
State of West Vieginia James Perrine Indecent Exposure 09.18.14 09.19.14
Bond: $1,000.00
State of West Vieginia Darryl D Murchison AKA Rollins Shoplifting 09.15.14 09.18.14
Bond: $100.00
State of West Vieginia Davon T. Burris Shoplifting 09.15.14
Bond: $100.00
State of West Vieginia Bon Tyler King Obstructing An Officer 09.14.14
Bond: $500.00
State of West Vieginia Bon Tyler King Driving Under The Influence 2nd Offense 09.14.14
Bond: $1,000.00
State of West Vieginia Samantha Joyce Boling Driving Suspended Revoked Non-DUI 09.12.15
Bond: $500.00
State of West Vieginia Stefan Andrew Zakaib Speeding 08.28.14
State of West Vieginia Jerry Lee Grounds Violation of Domestic Bond 09.08.14 09.09.14
Bond: $10,000.00; 09.16.14 Plea of No Contest Entered, 3 Month Jail Suspended, 3 Month Home Confinement, Fine $250.00, CC $160.25, CCP $30.00 * Total $440.25 6 Month Payment Schedule.
State of West Vieginia Michael Quentin Florence Possession of Firearm by Prohibited Person 09.09.14 09.10.14
Bond: $25,000.00; 09.19.14: Bond Reduced to $10,000.00 * Bound Over to Gilmer County Circuit Court.
State of West Vieginia Elijah Obadiah Urbanic Violation of Protective Order 09.10.14
Bond: $2,000.00; Released on $1,000.00 Personal Recognizance Bond
State of West Vieginia Rodeny Karis Drake Shoplifting 09.11.14 09.15.14
Bond: $100.00
State of West Vieginia James Coy Blosser Driving Suspended 3rd Non-DUI 09.08.14 09.08.14
Bond: $500.00
State of West Vieginia Matthew Scott Cottrill Failure to Stop for Bus 09.05.14 09.08.14
Bond: $1,000.00
State of West Vieginia Kari Dawn Ramsey Failure to Stop for Bus 09.05.14 09.08.14
Bond: $500.00



The Gilmer Free Press
WV State Police Citation(s):

Defendant Issued Charge(s)
Casey A. Collins 09.11.14 No Proof of Insurance
Ryan Stephen Cullen 09.20.14 Underage Consumption
Lance R. Gross 09.20.14 Driving Suspended / Revoked Non-DUI
Mecca Dawn Henderson 09.20.14 Underage Consumption
Briana C. Jackson 09.20.14 Underage Consumption
Brittsny J. Jackson 09.19.14 Speeding, Failure to Produce Operators
Cody Allen James 09.11.14 No Proof of Insurance
Billy Reed Kerby 09.07.14 Operator’s; No Proof of Insurance
Tori Desire Littles 09.20.14 Underage Consumption
Samantha B. Marks 09.20.14 Seat Belt Violation
Gary Joe McCourt, Jr. 09.12.14 Possession of Controlled Substance < 15 Grams
James Miller 09.20.14 Seat Belt Violation
James Casey Smith 09.11.14 Operator’s
Angenay E. Williams 09.11.14 Seat Belt Violation (2)
Angenay E. Williams 09.11.14 Possession of Controlled Substance < 15 Grams
Margaret Lea Zinn 09.11.14 No Proof of Insurance



Gilmer County Sheriff Citation(s):
Defendant Issued Charge(s)
Joseph Michael Bowie 09.13.14 Underage Consumption
Brian James Burton 09.13.14 Speeding
Devin Kyle Cottrill 09.19.14 Possession of Controlled Substance < 15 Grams
Mathew Sc Cottrill 09.05.14 Failure to Stop for Bus
Lucas Daniel DeMarino 09.19.14 Underage Consumption
Shane Michael Eddy 09.13.14 Underage Consumption
Mason Scott Fox 09.22.14 Underage Consumption
Maria Dawn Marks 09.20.14 Permit Suspended 2nd
Ross Lee Marks 09.20.14 Driving Suspended / Revoked Non-DUI 3rd
Trassondra Martin 09.15.14 Providing to Under 21
Christopher McVaney 09.12.14 No WV Operators
Kelsey Chr Nicholas 09.15.14 Providing to Under 21
Michael Austin Romel 09.13.14 Underage Consumption
Matthew Shame Smith 09.12.14 Public Intoxication
Dangale Broo Whited 09.15.14 Providing to Under 21
Grant Isai Williams 09.20.14 Underage Consumption



City of Glenville Citation(s):
Defendant Issued Charge(s)
Torres Martine Bell 09.20.14 Consumption Non-Intoxicating Beer
Moniqu Akea Dorsey 09.20.14 Consumption Non-Intoxicating Beer
Jordan Lee Gibson 09.20.14 Consumption Non-Intoxicating Beer
Stephanie R. Roberts 09.20.14 Consumption Non-Intoxicating Beer
Antwan Kewon Wilson 09.15.14 Shoplifting



The Gilmer Free Press
Department of Natural Resources Citation(s):

Defendant Issued Charge(s)
Thomas Evan Sandy 09.21.14 Registration Violation

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 09.22.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Monday, September 22, 2014 Judge Richard A. Facemire heard a 3 page docket in Gilmer County.


•  He heard and reset 16 juvenile matters.


State of West Virginia vs. Daniel McCormick

He was before the Court with his attorney, Matthew Thorn of Morgantown.

A potential plea bargain was discussed with the Judge, who was not very supportive of the same.

However, he asked the attorneys to submit their proposal and continued the matter to Thursday, October 02, 2014 at 10:40 AM.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Van R. Ramsey Sr.

He was before the Court for sentencing upon his former conviction by jury of reckless driving.

Judge Facemire sentenced him to 90 days in Central Regional Jail, but suspended the sentence and placed Ramsey Sr. on 2 years’ probation and fined him $500.00 and court costs.

Ramsey also must perform 75 hours of community service and is to have no contact with the victim and/or his family.

Medical costs are to be submitted to the Judge who took that matter under advisement regarding the victim=s medical bills.

Ramsey Sr. was represented by Daniel Grindo of Gassaway and Joyce Morton of Webster Springs.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Steve Gibson

He was also before the Court for sentencing and he was sentenced to 1-5 years in the penitentiary.

However, his sentence was suspended and he was placed on 5 years’ probation and must pay court costs within 18 months.

Gibson must also enroll in long term substance abuse treatment and submit to a psych evaluation.

He also must pay $11.00 per month to the Clerk for probation and community correction fees.

Gibson was represented by Bryan Hinkle of Buckhannon.

Gilmer County Circuit Court Report – 09.19.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Friday, September 19, 2014 Judge Facemire heard cases in Gilmer County.


•  Jesse Kessinger, a fugitive from justice wanted in OHIO waived extradition to return to that state.

He was represented by Christina Flanigan of Buckhannon and authorities in Ohio have until 4:00 PM Monday, September 29, 2014 to pick him up or he will be released from Central Regional Jail.


•  State of West Virginia vs. Edward G. Cottrill II

He was before the Court and entered a plea of guilty to count 2 of his indictment charging him with conspiracy.

Count I charging him with 3rd offense shoplifting was dismissed by Gerald Hough, Gilmer County Prosecuting Attorney.

Cottrill was represented by Clinton Bischoff of Summersivlle.

His sentencing was set for Monday, October 27, 2014, but later in the morning he failed his drug test and was sent to Central Regional Jail after Facemire signed the order.


•  State of West Virginia vs. John Robert Carder

He was also in Court on this date for revocation of his probation.

After admitting to the violation Judge Facemire revoked Carder’s probation and sentenced him to 6 months in Central Regional Jail for count 1 and 12 months in Central Regional Jail for count 5.

These sentences were to run consecutively and he was fined $500.00.

Then Judge Facemire suspended the sentence but ordered Carder to spend 5 weekends in Central Regional Jail and to perform 150 hours of community service per year of his 5 years’ probation that he was readmitted to.

He must pay court costs within 18 months plus he must pay the Clerk $11.00 per month in addition to his other costs.

Christina Flanigan of Buckhannon was also his attorney.

Gilmer County Family Court Report – 09.17.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, September 17, 2014 Family Court Judge Larry Whited held Court in Gilmer County.


Two divorces were granted as follows:


•  Wendy Jamison (31) of Gassaway, WV divorced Rocky Jamison (58) of Sand Fork, WV.


•  Mary Shaffer (27) of Elizabeth, WV divorced Geoffrey Shaffer (32) of Big Bend, WV.


•  One divorce was continued.


•  One domestic violence was granted and completed.

Gilmer County Family Court Report – 09.10.14

The Gilmer Free Press

On Wednesday, September 10, 2014 Family Court Judge Larry Whited held Court in Gilmer County.


•  Two domestic violence cases were handled.


•  Three divorces were set, 1 was continued and the following 2 were granted:


•  Tashua Riddle (28) of Linn, WV divorced Shawn Riddle (35) of Shinnston, WV.


•  Jessica Helmick (32) of Alum Bridge, WV divorced Steven Helmick (35) of Burnsville, WV.

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