Harrassment & Stalking Case Against Pocahontas Resident Dismissed
Marlinton, WV – In early August, Pocahontas County Commissioner David Fleming filed a complaint against county resident Norman Alderman, accusing him of harassment and stalking. During the pre-trial hearing in Pocahontas Magistrate Court on Monday, no arguments concerning those charges were ever heard by the sitting Judge – the case was dismissed before it got that far.
Alderman told Magistrate Judge Charles Beard he believes Pocahontas Magistrate Judge Kathy Beverage did not act with impartiality when signing the order to arrest him on the charges in early August.
“The law says I have a right to a neutral and detached Magistrate” says Alderman. “This Magistrate despises me. Everybody knows me in this county; they know that I am person that if I think my rights are violated I go after them. And so, because of that Kathy Beverage when she signed the warrant, she was prejudiced.”
Shortly after signing the order, Beverage asked to be recused from hearing the case against Alderman. Fellow Magistrate Judge Janet Kershner-Vanover, whom Alderman says he holds in high esteem, also asked to be recused. Pocahontas Prosecuting Attorney Donna Price disagreed with Aldermans assessment of Judge Beverage.
“He’s done nothing other than give the court personal opinion and supposition as to what the Magistrates opinion or feeling was at the date and time that she received the complaint from Chief [Dave] Walton and made probable cause” says Price. Subsequent to that she made her motion that she did not feel that it was appropriate for her to be the hearing Magistrate, as did Magistrate Vanover.”
Alderman requested that Beverage appear as a witness, but that request was denied by Judge Beard. Likewise, Prosecutor Price refused Aldermans request to strike her comments about Beverage from the hearing record.
In the end, it came down to how the recusals from the Judges were worded. Judge Kershner-Vanovers’ recusal cites pre-trial publicity as the reason for refusing to preside over the hearing. Judge Beard says Judge Beverages’ recusal appears to be more personal.
“Then we go to Magistrate Beverages’ and it talks about outbursts on his website, the Etater, that weren’t true, so I conclude there’s a difference there in their reasons for wanting to be recused” says Beard. “It appears from Ms. Beverages’ recusal request that it’s more specific and personal in nature; supposed outbursts toward her and she felt that way the very next day.”
Judge Beard agreed with Alderman that Beverage was not impartial when she found probable cause to issue the arrest warrant. He dismissed the case without prejudice, leaving the door open for the Prosecutor Price to recharge Alderman.