Law firm demands payment from Pocahontas Commission
Marlinton, W.Va. – The Charleston-based Ranson Law Office has demanded the Pocahontas County Commission pay a $19,000 legal bill incurred by Prosecuting Attorney Donna Price. Price is defending herself from charges of violations of professional conduct leveled by the State Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
The commission previously informed Ranson that county insurance did not cover the bill and denied the commission’s responsibility to pay. Ranson responded with a demand for payment within 10 days.
Commissioner David Fleming reads a portion of the letter from Ranson.
“While I understand and appreciate your statement that the commission is being denied insurance coverage, the denial of insurance coverage does not relieve the commission’s responsibility to pay the invoice,” Fleming read.
Commissioner Jamie Walker says he sought advice from commissioners elsewhere.
“With the other commissioners that I have talked to, they said if it was an intentional, deliberate action on that person, you’re not responsible, unless they would be found innocent and was proven that they did not intentionally do it,” he said.
Walker also notes the commission was not involved in hiring the firm.
“Well, the question, that I would also have, is how would we be liable to pay something that we never even approved hiring in the first place?” Walker said.
Fleming makes a suggestion.
“So, I think it’s important that what we do – we contact them and say we’re going to discuss this on December 18 and we welcome your participation by telephone, if you can’t make it in person,” he said. “So, let’s just start with that. That may stave them off from feeling they have to go forward on December 8 – 10 days from this letter.”
The commission accepted Fleming’s recommendation and will reconsider payment of Price’s legal bill during its December 18 meeting.
The ODC has scheduled hearings in Price’s case for February 4, 5 and 6. The ODC informed AMR news that the hearings will be held in Pocahontas County, but the site has not been determined.
The commission received a request for $250 from the lessee of the former Durbin Magistrate Office, to make repairs to damage that resulted when the Sheriff’s Department installed and removed videocameras.
Walker notes the Sheriff’s Department was responsible for the damage and Commissioner Martin Saffer responds.
“It looks to me like it’s obvious that it was due to his up-modeling that caused the problem,” Walker said.
“Yes, and it was also due to the fact that he had to take the cameras out, eventually,” Saffer said.
The commission forwarded the request to the Sheriff’s Department for payment.
In other business, the county commission:
— approved a letter to the USDA requesting assistance coordinating public meetings for the proposed national monument in Pocahontas County.
— approved a local group’s Intent To Apply for Recreational Trail grant money for county property in Green Bank, and
— heard an update from First Energy manager John Norman on the company’s actions to improve emergency response.