by J.R. Brammer
CLARKSBURG -- Lawyers debating Harrison County Prosecutor John Scott's eligibility to retain office will present oral arguments at 1:15 p.m. today before Circuit Judge Thomas Bedell.
Attorneys with the Public Defender's Office contend that Scott's seven-week law license suspension, during which time he took office and presented cases to the grand jury, renders him permanently ineligible to hold the position he filled Jan. 1.
Chief Public Defender Nancy Ulrich says the Jan. 22 filing seeking Scott's removal is a necessary action to best protect the interests of the more than 70 indicted defendants.
"This is not personal," Ulrich said. "We welcome John."
Scott's attorneys, David Romano and Greg Schillace, filed a response Jan. 29 contending that removing the newly elected prosecutor would be a disservice to voters. Scott defeated his closest opponent by more than 1,100 votes in the May Democratic Primary. He ran unopposed in the November general election.
"He's the choice of the people," Romano said.
Scott's law license was suspended retroactive to Nov. 15 because of $295 in unpaid dues to the West Virginia Bar Association. His license was reinstated Jan. 8 after he paid the dues.
Bedell said his ruling could come as early as today.
Both sides previously have indicated that an appeal of Bedell's decision to the West Virginia Supreme Court is likely.
If Scott is removed from office, county commissioners would choose his successor.
Staff writer J.R. Brammer can be reached at 626-1442 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.