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High court talks over Scott case in private

by J.R. Brammer

STAFF WRITER

CHARLESTON -- Supreme Court justices privately discussed the matter of Harrison County Prosecutor John Scott's eligibility Thursday, but made no ruling as to whether they will hear arguments themselves, a court official says.

A time table for a high-court decision is unknown, said Michelle Mensore, information services director.

If the court agrees to hear the matter, the earliest possible date would be March 6, she said.

Four lawyers with the Public Defender's Office argued unsuccessfully before Circuit Judge Thomas Bedell Feb. 8 to remove Scott, saying that because his law license was suspended when his term began, Scott is permanently ineligible from serving.

Scott's attorneys countered that their client's failure to pay mandatory state Bar association dues on-time wasn't an ethical violation that would warrant his removal. Further, they say removing Scott over an administrative matter such as this would render the electoral process void.

Scott paid his dues last month and his license was reinstated.

Although Bedell ruled Scott could remain in office, he said the state Bar Disciplinary Council should consider reviewing Scott's actions.

Public defenders say they have no choice but to appeal the circuit court ruling because they say failure to do so would leave future matters regarding themselves and Scott's office open to litigation and appeal.

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

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