There was an article in the Charleston Gazette this morning about the ongoing criminal trial of an officer accused of “double dipping” – working as a mall security guard while still on the clock as a police officer. I probably wouldn’t have commented on this, but I happened to glance at the article and noticed that the defense attorney was one of the two defense attorneys who participated in the police liability CLE in Charleston a few months ago. He is a civil defense attorney from a large Charleston firm who primarily defends police officers/departments in civil lawsuits. It makes me wonder. Is the City (Charleston Police Department) or it’s insurance carrier paying for his criminal defense? Or did this officer just respect this particular attorney’s skills through past experience or by reference and hire him personally as his criminal defense attorney? It might be a good FOIA request issue for the Gazette to take on. If the City is providing the defense, what is the reason? How much is it costing taxpayers? And should an officer be provided with a prominent and expensive attorney when charged with a financial crime? I think these are all good questions if indeed the City is paying the bill.
This also reminds me: I had a former police chief, who subsequently became a federal corrections officer, testify at a murder trial for which he was the investigating officer. At the time he traveled to the trial location, he was being paid by the federal government. Additionally, the City took it upon themselves to generously and liberally pay the man for his hourly time during his trip and during his testimony. Of course this was never disclosed to the defense. I later found out about it from a letter to the editor in that city’s local paper. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court didn’t really care about the nondisclosure issue. He was given the opportunity to return the money to the City, which I believe he did. He was not prosecuted.
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.