Harrison County Prosecuting Attorney John Scott faces possible sanctions after the Investigative Panel of the Lawyer Disciplinary Board of the West Virginia State Bar determined probable cause exists in seven charges brought against him.
The charges stem in part from his failure to pay State Bar dues on time, which led to a court challenge of his ability to hold his current office. That incident also led to the reconvening of the January 2001 session of the Harrison County Grand Jury, since Scott had presented cases while technically not licensed to practice law.
The charges also include six other cases from 1996 to 1999 that were handled by Scott while in private practice.
In the seven charges, the Investigative Panel alleges Scott violated State Bar rules more than 30 times, including to "engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation," "make a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal," and "offer evidence that the lawyer knows to be false."
Scott told The Exponent Telegram that it was not appropriate for him to comment on the merits of the charges, but did say he would deny any intentional wrongdoing.
"We take this matter very seriously and are dealing with it in a very up front manner," Scott said. "We've cooperated with the disciplinary council fully and will respond appropriately."
Scott has 30 days to respond to the charges. Within 120 days of that, a State Bar Hearing Panel Subcommittee with hear evidence presented by Scott and the Investigative Panel.
The Hearing Panel has 60 days to recommend any punishment to the State Supreme Court, which will have the final say on the matter.
Scott could be exonerated of all charges if the Investigative Panel fails to supply "clear and convincing evidence." He could also face punishment including a private or public reprimand, probation, limitation of practice, supervised practice, suspension of license or annulment of license.
Scott said the charges will not affect his ability to serve as the county's prosecutor.
"I take my job very seriously," Scott said. "I have worked very hard to run a good, efficient and honest office. I believe that with the help of my staff we have provided the county with 10 months of good service. We'll continue to do that every day."