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Scott case is appealed to state Supreme Court

by J.R. Brammer

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- Lawyers seeking Harrison County Prosecutor John Scott's ouster from office have appealed their case to the state Supreme Court.

Public defenders, who argued unsuccessfully last week to remove Scott because his law license was suspended when his term began, say seeking a Supreme Court ruling is the only way to fulfill their obligation to their clients.

Scott's attorneys say their client's failure to pay Bar dues on time isn't an ethical violation that could warrant his removal. They also say kicking him out would negate the electoral process.

It is unknown when or if the appeal may be heard.

Last Friday, Circuit Judge Thomas Bedell ruled Scott was eligible to remain in office, rejecting the version presented by public defenders of how the two-month suspension affected his right to serve his four-year term.

However, Bedell requested the state Bar to review some of Scott's conduct. Among the issues: Why Scott continued to practice after his Nov. 15 suspension; and also how he went about being reinstated.

Membership in the Bar association is mandatory for lawyers in West Virginia.

Scott's license was reinstated last month after he paid the Bar $295 in cash.

The current grand jury session, which returned more than 70 indictments while Scott's license was suspended, is on hold pending the Supreme Court appeal.

Three of the five justices must rule in favor of hearing the appeal. If the court does not, then Bedell's ruling stands. If they do, then the court will have to schedule a date to hear arguments.

"Typically, it takes several months to schedule these things, but it doesn't have to," said Rory Perry, clerk of court for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

Petitioners have the right to request an expedited review.

In a recent case, the Supreme Court ruled to speed up the matter of a collegiate wrestler seeking to compete during an ongoing season, Perry said.

Staff writer J.R. Brammer can be reached at 626-1442 or by e-mail at jbrammer@exponent-telegram.com.

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