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February 8, 1994     The Hinton News
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February 8, 1994
 

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1 /" llll 5 Cents" TheHIN NNEIFS Eiome of (the00W'f0000a00'00Water00Festival Volw,e 92 NO. 42 , day.  NOW _IIIICourt Z00oio /I " By Fred Long Fayetteville attorney, G. Ernest Skagge, walked out of the courtroom, Friday morning, free of a civil con- tempt charge air issuing a general apology over an altercation, early last month, between attorneys, and agreeing to pay a $100 fine; but, two . criminal charges of fighting with , local police officers still hangs over him. "I'm not concerned about the criminal charges," Skagge said fol- lowing the five-minute hearing be- fore Circuit Judge Robert Irons. The charges, Skaggs said, may be dis- missed. There's some differences there--- some legal issues there." i Skaggs would not elaborate, say- ing the issue is still before the courts; however in an affidavit, Skagge said: =I was handcuffed and thrown to the floor. I never intentionally fought these police officers even though I certainly was in a position to do so." Skaggs is fad ng two misdemeanor counts of fighting with Sheriffs i Deputy Johnny Mann and DNR offi- i cerCharlieHunt. Thetwoattempted i to take him into custody following i the January 6 altercation in the Courthouse involving Skagge, for- } met prcoecutor Jee Aucremanne and Judge Irons. .... ! Skaggs faces up to a year in jail and a $500 fine on beth counts, if  convicted. He was released on these i charges after posting a $1,000 per- sonal recognizance bond before i Magistrate Bill Jeffries. Jeffries removed himself from ! hearing the case Friday and turned the charges over to Magistrate James E..Wootie" Beasiey's court, he said. "I did it to avoid any appearance'of I impropriety," he explained because I of his connection with the police offi- ! cer, Skagge and Judge Irons. i Beasley, most likely, will remove ! himself from the case for the same i r e., requiring the appointment I fasliecial magistrate. Judge Irons would make that appointment, but, i since he is a potential witness, the l appointment might be made by the i Supreme Court. A hearing has not i been scheduled. "lhe charges =won't be dropped," , Sheriff John Plumley said. -Ie's ' ; heldin account the same as anybody else," Plumley flied the charges on behalfofthe two officers shortly after ' ! the scuffle. t : Skaggs was jailed over night on  the contempt charge, but released, i appeal was filed with the state Supreme Court. !;i The high court, Wednesday, de- termined Irons "did not act inappro- priately in holding # Skagge, and directed him to =proceed with this matter in a manner he deems appro- priate." The unanimous ruling also turned the matter over =to the Committee on Legal Ethics of the WV State Bar for further investiga. tion." Irons said earlier all he wanted from Skagge is an apology. Skagge said he was satisfied" with the high court's ruling and not surprised by it. "Anytime a conflict comes up between an attorney and a i judge the Supreme Court will stand behindthejudge? Turningitover to the State Bar, he said, is what he wanted. 'ne Supreme Court didn't do anything more than what I did." Skagge called for an investigation by the State Bar the same time his I wife, Nancy, filed his unsuccessful ;; with the Supreme Court. also said he would seek a  i Judicial investigation, but Friday, said this would not be pursued. The formal apology was issued i i shortly after the high court's ruling, B ibut Skaggs did not extend it to in- clude Aucremanne.  he problem," Skaggs' attorney !! Jim Billings said, =wasn't between ! Ernie and Judge Irons. The problem i was between him and Aucremanne. I i Heand the judge didn't have a prob.  lem until Aucremanne got into the |00middieofi00" :::::::::::::::::::::: i::" ::::::::::::::::::::::::::: ::.. i::::::::.: ............... G. Ernest Skaggs Skngge and Irons have =gotten along fine for a year," Skagge said, "and I see noreason why we can't get along now." Skagge said as long as Irons treats him the same as any other attorney we won't have a problem ? Skaggs claims Aucremanne started the confrontation, during a break for lunch, when Aucremanne told him to sign some court papers and slappedhim in the stomach with the documents. He toldAucremanne he would sign them later and when he turned to leave the courtroom, Aucremanne "hit him in the Imck," he mid. Atmrenmnne denies the le. tion. A witnees to the embrqment, court rsporter Mary Jo Goettle, told the Supreme Court what she saw that day. In her affidavit, released by the Supreme Court Thursday, she said she was at her desk at 12:40 p.m. when she saw =Auervmanne come into the courtroom from the hall, and proceed to the Judge's chem. bers' door. When he approached the door of the Judge's chambers, I heard him say, I have the order prepared for you to sign off on." She heard Skag say "something to the effect, t's not one o'clock yet. ..... ' and I could not hear what Mr. Aucremanne said because he had his back to me. There was an explomon of words being mid. I stood up and watched to see what was happening. =Iheard the bailiff, Johnny Mann, tell Mr. Sksgge to calm down. Judge Irons told Mr. Skag to calm dawn. Then the Judge told Mr. Aucremarme to go back out in the courtroom until Mr. Skagge cooled off. "lhen Mr. Skagge came into the courtroom and was behind the jury box right at the door of the Judge's chambers. "Mr. Skagge was starting to leave and he came back to Mr. Aucre- manne at the Judge's doorway and said, 'Oh, go feed your sheep. You scum bag. Don't you ever tell me what todo. YouYe not myboss. You can't tell me what to do, or can that person you have in there on a string.' Mr. Skaggs was up in Mr. Aucremanns's face. "He was very loud, very angry, very upset, and pointing his finger at Mr. Aucremanne. Mr. Skaggs had a look of hatred for Mr. Aucre- manne. Mr. Aucremanne had a look of surprise on his face. Mr. Aucre. manne never mid anything. Mr. Aucremarme backed over to my desk and stood there with me and Mr. Perry Mann. At notime did Mr. Aucremanne touch Mr. Skaggs, nor Mr: Skagge touch Mr. Aucre- manne. =At that point, I heard the bailiff, JohnnyMann, callingfor Mr. Skegge. Mr. Skagge went bask into the Judge's chambers. I heard the bail. iffsay, r. Skags, we don'ttolerate that kind ofoutburst in here. This is a court of law and you are in the courtroom.' Then I heard Judge Irons say, Now Ernla, you're go/rig to have to calm down and get hold of your- self. We can't have that kind of conduct in here.' Then I heard Mr. Skagge say something back to the Judge which I oould not make out =At that point, Mr. Skagge was beginning to lose control of himself. He was yelling and ehoutin some- thing about Mr. Aucremanne and the past cases. =I heard Judge Irons and the bail- iff both talking to Mr. Skaggs, one and then the other. Judge Irons then said, Ernie, if you don't calm down, Iql just send you over to the jail to take some time to cool offand then you can come back.' Mr. Skaggs was talking something about a Mr. Witiw and about being special prose- cutor and Mr. Aucremanne, about something being all political. "The bailiff was telling Mr. Skaggs to calm down. Then I heard Mr. Skagge say to the bailiff, keep your hands offme. Don't touch me. Keep your hands off me. I'm not going to jail. TM The exchange of words continued, she writes, saying,'I sawMr. Skagge shove the Judge." She ran to the phone to call additional police for assistance and when she returned, I viewed Mr. Skaggs laying on the floor ..... has hands handcuffed to the back." Deputy Johnny Mann, in his po- lice report, tells what happened. When Irons told Skagge he would send him to the jail if he didn't calm down, Mr. Skagg's temper then exploded on Judge Irons and he put hls, finger in the.Judge's face and said, No, I'm telling you how it is,  Mann writes "Judge Irons warned him again and tried to get Mr. Skagge out of his face by placing his hands on Mr. Skagge' arm and steppingback. Mr. Skaggs told the Judge to'get your .... hands off of me' and pushed the Judge away. At this time Judge Irons commanded me to take Mr. Skagge into custody and place him in jail/ Mann said he tried to get Skaggs "to leave willingly" several times, however, he "became very violent and jerked away and positioned himself in a fighting stance. =I tried again to subdue him but his arm came towards my head as if he was going to hit me and when I moved my head back he grabbed my neck and started choking me." Mann freed himself and called for backup, he said. DNR Officer C. D. Hunt was at the jail and arrived on the scene in about 30 seconds, ac- cording to his report of the incident. Hunt and Mann tried to remove Skagge from the Judge's chambers =and he started fighting both of us," according to Mann's report. We managed to wrestle him to the ground and I got his right hand cuffed" but could not get the cuff on his left hand. Mann asked former sheriff Tom Briers to assist him, but he refused; however prosecutor Tom Canterbury "did lean down" to help. Hunt said Skaggs hit him several times with his left before the hand was cuffed. =Skagge caused injury to [his] left ear, upper lip, and the top of the head when my head was forced into the door facing of the Judge's chamber," Hunt writes in his report. Skaggs version of the incident is somewhat different. In his aft davit be fore the Supreme Court, after Aucremanne asked him to sign the court order, =I left the [court] room and started down the hallway. Aucremanne bolted from the room where Judgs Irons was and started pursuing me. Judge Irons saw him leave the room and come aftar me. With Aucremanne behind me, I made the comment, 'Oh, Joe, go feed your sheep.' "At that point I felt a sharp push on my left shoulder. I stopped and turned and found that Aueremanne was only inches from my face. I made the comment tohim spontane- ously that he did not have any strings on me. Because of the physical sur- roundings, it was impossible for Judge Irons or anyone else to see that brief confrontation. "Judge Irons then screamed out from the room he was in, Place him under arrest. He's in contempt.' =At that point Deputy Johnny Mann came rushing through the door. He grabbed me by the shoul- der and pushed me through one little room and then into the room where Judge Irons was. Judge Irons kept screaming, Place him under arrest. Handcuff him and take him to jail.' "I was obviously completely shocked at what was taking place. I had not only been shoved in the back by another attorney but also I had been pushed through a room by a deputy. I further had been told that I was going to be jailed and had not been given an explanation. =Aucremanne was standing on one side of the Judge loudly making comments, and I was on the other side. It was not until former Sum- mers County sheriff, Tom Briers, entered the room that Judge Irons ordered Aucremarme out of the room. I did demand to know why I was being held in contempt and ordered to jail, and Judge Irons never gave me an explanation. When Officer Hunt arrived, I was handcuffed and thrown to the floor. I never intentionally fought these police officers even though I cer- tainly was in a position to do so. Further I at no time touched Judge Irons... I do not recall any profanity being used." Skaggs regretted the incident, callingit a ragic controversy on the judicial system'; but said, behind it is another story involving his ap- pointment as a special prosecutor in a marijuana complaint, two and a half years ago, against Paul Witiw. At the time Aucremanne was facing criminal charges of attacking Witiw and Skaggs refused to pursue the marijuana charges against Witiw. Aucremanne, following a two day trial, was found not guilty of the charge. iii:i:i;:. Eastern Associated Coal Corp. representa- pieces of lifesaving protective gear to the tire Bob Brown (right) hands County Sheriff department after learning they were seek- John Plumleyone of five bulletproofjackets, ing donations to buy eight bulletproof vests The company, last week, donated several for the officer. Bulletproof Vests Donated to Sheriff's Dept. By Fred Long Five of the eight county law en- forcoment officers with the Sheriff's Department will be wearing bullet- proof vests, or jackets, thanks to a gift, last week, from Eastern Associ- ated Coal Corp., in Charleston. e feel like Summers County is a second home because of Camp Lighffoot," said community relations representative Bob Brown when making the donation Wednesday. The camp, on the Greenbrier River, has been used by the com- pany for 53 years. It was formally a summer camp for employee's chil- dren, but now the camp is used for management andtrainingseminars, he said. The department began seeking donations to purchase eight bullet- proof vests last November. Wells Complex Superintendent Jerry Swanson, in Boone County, learned that the department was seeking donations for the lifesaving equip- ment and contacted company head- quarters to find out if they could help, Brown said. "They were very pleased to accommodate you," Brown Candidate's Filing Voters have six candidates seek- ing one of three seats on the County Board of Education and two candi- dates running for a seat on the County Commission. The last day to file with the Circuit Clerk was Sat- urday. Seeking a seat on the Board of Education from the Greenbrier River District are: Danny Joe Hartwell, Delvin D. Elwell, and Jack L. Scott, Sr., all of Hinton. Thomas Dean (Tom) Coffman and Wayne R. Kea- ton, of Jumping Branch will try for a seat for the Bluestone River Die- trier, while Charles Franklin Harferd, of Hinton, is running from the New River District. RichardL.Dick" Meader, incum- bent, and Curti D. Pack, both of Continued on page 2 said while handing Sheriff John Plumley one of five bulletproof vests. The donation also included five bulletproof jackets and five riot hel- met and masks. The vests, worn under clothing, cost about $400 each and each jacket about $700, Plumley said. All were new, never out of the box, and have a five year guarantee on the "protective components', Brown said. 'ney have never been used." "I'm tickled to death," said P]umley. nis gets us 70 percent of the way." He said they would never have tried to purchase the jackets and helmets because of the cost. his increases the safety for our men." Plumley said the vests will be given to the men and the jacksts and helmets will stay at the jail for each shift to use when needed. Plumley said donations for the remaining three vests can be made at the National Bank of Summers or the First National Bank. Each member of the department will also need mesh undershirts to use under the vests "so the men won't burn up in the summer." The company also donated gear to the state police and the Boone County Sheriffs Dept., Brown said. Corps Studying Bluestone Dam Debris The search for the most effective and economic method of managing drift and debris that accumulates against Bluestone Dam will continue until early spring, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers an- nouncement. The Army Corps of Engineers Huntington District office, with funding provided through WV Con- gressman Nick Rahall, is examining a variety of alternatives for han- dling the natural drift and man made trash that floats down the upper New River until it hits the concrete flood control dam. The Corps is coordinating its evaluation with the WV Div. of Natural Resources, WV Div. of Environmental Protection and its office of Waste Management, Na- tional Park Service and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Normal New River flow, from its 4,600 square miles of watershed in North Carolina, Virginia and south- ern West Virginia,iepammd through 16 gate-controlled sluices in the base of Bluestone Dam. Since completion of the dam in 1949, the Corps has passed the floating material through the sluices, letting it flow on down- stream. In the past 15.years, growing recreation use of the river led to an increase in complaints about the drift and debris on the lake and down- stream. The =canyon" created by the steep river banks upstream of the dam magnifies the difficulties and expense of direct removal of all drift and debris that accumulates behind the dam. A number of options are being considered to address the problem. Significant interest is evident from cooperating agencies, and sugges- tions for effective, efficient control of the problem are being solicited. Rahall sponsored the inclusion of $1 million in the fiscal year 1994 Appropriation Act for developingand implementing a program for han- dling drift and debris at Bluestone Lake. Until the Corps of Engineers ac- tually begins the trial efforts to col. ]ect basic data after the winter weather breaks, the material will not be passed through the dam un- less it becomes a safety hazard or it threatens the normal operation of Bluestone Dam, Corps representa- tive Steven Wright said. The Bluestone Dam is a vital link in the three-dam system which re. duces the threat of serious flooding at Charleston.