WV Supreme Court Releases Formal Statement of Charges against Raleigh County Family Court Judge

Yesterday afternoon, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals clerk’s office released the Formal Statement of Charges against Raleigh County, West Virginia Family Court Judge Louise E. Goldston – a 26 year Family Court judge. This is the judge caught on video searching the home of my client, Matt Gibson – threatening him with arrest if he didn’t allow her in. Here’s the post with the original video, as well as the update video, if you haven’t seen it. The charges state that on March 11, 2020, investigators opened a complaint, and that a subsequently second complaint was filed by my client, Matt Gibson.

For reference, I originally uploaded the video of the judge searching Matt’s property on March 10 – the day before the inception of the opening of the investigation. The video quickly went viral, and by the next day an investigation had essentially opened itself. In other words, the power of Youtube is great. In one day, it found its way into the eyeballs of the Judicial Investigation Commission, the only folks with the power to lodge judicial disciplinary charges against judges in West Virginia.

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia established the Judicial Investigation Commission to determine whether probable cause exists to formally charge a judge with a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, to govern the ethical conduct of judges and to determine if a judge, because of advancing years and attendant physical and mental incapacity, should not continue to serve.

http://www.courtswv.gov/legal-community/judicial-investigation.html

If you want to report what you believe is judicial misconduct, or a civil rights violations committed by a judge, anyone can file a complaint with the JIC. Here’s the complaint form.

Any person may file an ethics complaint against a judge. However, a complaint that is filed more than two (2) years after the complainant knew, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known, of the existence of a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct may be dismissed for exceeding the statute of limitations.

http://www.courtswv.gov/legal-community/judicial-investigation.html

Then, even though covid hit, the investigation apparently proceeded, and 6 months later the charges dropped (which was yesterday, 10/2/20). I just happened to be traveling when the charges came out, so it wasn’t really until this morning that I was able to digest them.The Formal Statement of Charges alleges that:

FAMILY COURT JUDGE GOLDSTON violated Rule 1.1 (compliance with the law), Rule 1.2 (confidence in the judiciary), Rule 1.3 (avoiding abuse of prestige of office), Rule 2.2 (impartiality and fairness), Rule 2.4(B) (external influences), Rule 2.5 (competence, diligence and cooperation) and Rule 3.1(A), (B), (D) (extrajudicial activities in general) of the Code of Judicial Conduct….

In other words, the JIC concluded that the judge failed to comply with the law, committed actions which undermines confidence in the judiciary, abused the prestige of her office, was impartial and unfair, allowed external influences on her actions, was incompetent, un-diligent (is that a word?) and uncooperative, and engaged in extrajudicial activities. According to the charges, these home “visits” (searches) have been going on “over the past twenty years.”

Over the past twenty years as a Family Court Judge, Respondent has been engaging in the practice of visiting homes of litigants appearing in front of her. Respondent went to the litigants’ homes to either determine if certain disputed marital property was present and/or to supervise the transfer of disputed property. Respondent admitted to conducting these home visits in her capacity as a Family Court Judge on eleven separate occasions in different cases.

In every instance except Mr. Gibson’s case, all of Respondent’s home visits were prompted by a motion by a litigant’s attorney and not objected to by the opposing party and will full knowledge of the purpose therein. Most of the Respondent’s home visits occurred during a court hearing in the case. A party’s attorney would move the Court to leave directly from the bench and accompany the parties to the home. After granting the motion, Respondent would meet the parties at the home.

The JIC interviewed the judge and asked her what authority she had to engage in this practice:

On July 22, 2020, Judicial Disciplinary Counsel took Respondent’s sworn statement. Respondent admitted that she failed to inform Mr. Gibson of the purpose of the home visit while the parties were in the courtroom and that she did not give him any opportunity to object thereto until everyone was at his house.

Respondent opined that she believed it was proper to visit litigants’ homes. Respondent likened the practice to a jury view or similar continuation of the court proceeding and stated that as a finder of fact it was necessary to determine whether a party could be held in contempt for not turning over personal property as previously ordered by the Court.

When asked, Respondent could provide no statute, rule or case that gave her the authority to conduct home visits. Respondent also acknowledged that there was nothing in the contempt powers that gave her the authority to conduct a home visit. Respondent confessed that she never held anyone in contempt prior to going to the home and that she failed to enter any order subsequent to the visit reflecting what had happened at the residence, whether any items had been secured and/or whether or not a party was in contempt.

I was absolutely correct when I first reviewed the video. There was no legal basis upon which a judge could search a home as was portrayed in the video. The fact that this judge had been doing it for the past 20 years, was not itself justification. Instead, this sobering fact proves that many former Family Court litigants are absolutely correct when they rant about corruption and unlawfulness. Over the past 20 years, at least 10 other victims have been subjected to this in this judge’s “courtroom,” subjected to unlawful “home visits” upon the motion of an attorney, and without objection from any other attorney.

I wonder how many of these visits involved this one particular attorney involved in this video? After all, it was this attorney who left a voice message for Mr. Gibson the night before the search, offering $5,000 in exchange for foregoing what would essentially be a Family Court anal probing:

This whole thing reeks to me, and sounds a lot like a “pay to play” style judicial experience. Had he paid 5 grand, he could have avoided being lucky number 11? Time will tell, hopefully. Roots run deep in a 20 year period inside one particular court. Perhaps this had something to do with a local Family Court attorney going on TV following my initial TV appearance with my client, to say that I was wrong, and that “home visits” were a perfectly legal Family Court practice. Yeah, okay…..

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – UPDATE: On Thursday, we ran a story about a Raleigh County man involved in a contempt case after a finalized divorce whose recording of a family court judge went viral. Matt Gibson claimed the search of his home was against his 4th Amendment rights. Because the judge and the opposing attorney cannot comment on ongoing litigation, local family attorney [let’s call him JOHN DOE] is speaking out saying Judge Louise Goldston was doing her job and doing it legally

“What I think is most important to know about this is when you see a video on YouTube, when you see a Terry search, when you see something and immediately it doesn’t match what we’ve always seen on television that doesn’t make it wrong,” he said. “Because they didn’t do it that way on Law and Order doesn’t mean that a judge that has decades of experience is breaking the law.”

It looks like I was right, and he was wrong. So, he said the judge wasn’t allowed to respond, so he was responding on her behalf? Why is that, I wonder? That’s a rhetorical question, of course. Is he saying that she asked him to respond and defend her publicly? Another good point that the JIC makes in the statement of charges, is that if the judge, and her local family court lawyers, are going to characterize her actions as a lawful component of a judicial proceeding, then they have some issues to consider:

Respondent admitted that she never had any clear or written procedures for conducting a home visit, including but not limited to, when the proceeding should be utilized and how the process should take place. She also acknowledged that she never took a court reporter to the scene.

Upon reflection, Respondent agreed that the practice could make her a potential witness to a future proceeding which could then result in her disqualification. Respondent further agreed that family court judges run the risk of disqualification if he/she were to become a witness in a subsequent proceeding pertaining thereto.

Respondent also agreed that the burden of proof in a contempt proceeding rests not with the Family Court Judge but with the moving party. She agreed that it is the moving party’s responsibility to provide evidence in support of his/her contention that the other side has failed to produce the items in question. Respondent admitted to improperly putting herself into the role of litigant.

Like I said during the TV interview, the reason I’ve never heard people complain about having their homes searched by judges before, is because that’s not what judge do – judges don’t search homes. This judge was acting in the role of a litigant. So it was basically like Trump debating both Biden and Chris Wallace in the first presidential debate. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. The opposing attorney is supposed to submit evidence and prove his case. Here you had a judge doing both of these things, and then engaging in an unlawful search of one party’s home, on behalf of the other party. Why? That’s yet another rhetorical question of course. If the other 10 victims were represented by lawyers, why didn’t they object?

And then there’s the 800 pound gorilla in the room: the Sheriff’s Department assisting the judge in these actions. On how many of these 10 other searches were they present? The statement of charges also notes that the bailiff (a sheriff’s deputy) forced Mr. Gibson to stop his recording, and that he himself started to record what happened inside the home:

Upon Respondent’s arrival at Mr. Gibson’s property, Mr. Gibson had a bystander video record the initial interactions outside the house between Respondent and the parties. Mr. Gibson also secretly recorded several minutes of audio of the initial interaction on his cell phone.

When the video and audio recording were discovered by Respondent, she ordered both recordings stopped. However, once inside the house, Respondent’s bailiff used his phone to record both video and audio of the separation of marital assets.

Where is this video, and why hasn’t it been produced? I heard through the grapevine, that following my initial uploading of the Youtube video, that the Sheriff of that county sent around a memo to the effect of, “no more going anywhere with a judge….” Of course, the JIC doesn’t investigate law enforcement, nor discipline them. You might find this shocking, but there is no state agency or commission which investigates law enforcement officers in the way that judges, and even lawyers, are investigated (there’s a pending disciplinary complaint against the lawyer who was involved here as well).

The only consistent investigator of law enforcement misconduct in West Virginia is me, sadly. Those who were involved in the search of my client’s house will be explaining their actions. I can’t put people in jail, nor discipline them, so we’ve pretty much come full circle. I have to demand money damages for my client, and they’ll have the opportunity to avoid what’s coming their way. It ain’t pretty, but that’s the relief available. Unless someone wants to deputize me as a special federal prosecutor or something…..

Family Court Judge Search UPDATE – the Judge has been charged!

UPDATE, and Part 2, to one of the craziest search and seizure cases I’ve ever seen, or personally been involved with: The West Virginia Family Court judge who’s searched the home of a federal law enforcement officer, looking for his ex-wife’s DVDs and other stuff, a year and a half after they divorced….. and got caught by YouTube.

Another UPDATE 10/2/20: The judge has been charged. The Statement of Charges was just released this afternoon:

The original video (Part 1), in case you missed it:

Part 3 expected early next week. Make sure to subscribe to our channel and also add yourself to our email subscription list. No spam, just updates every time a new post drops.

Email notifications of updates:

Lockdowns Don’t Work, including in West Virginia

There was a good article from the Mises Institute, The Evidence Keeps Piling up: Lockdowns Don’t Work, by Ryan McMaken. Here in West Virginia, our it seems that it was our Governor’s proudest life achievement so far, that he “shut down” the state, and then got to create an entire new form of government, which he titled, “The Comeback.” At least while mommy and daddy legislature is still in hiding….. As McMaken noted:

The toll lockdowns have taken on human life and human rights has been incalculable. Increases in child abuse, suicide, and even heart attacks, all appear to be a feature of mandatory stay-at-home orders issued by politicians who now rule by decree without any legislative or democratic due process. And then, of course, there is the economic toll on employment, which will feed negative impacts into the longer term. The economic burden has fallen the most on the young and on working-class families, whose earners are least able to work from home.

These measures also have made a mockery of basic human rights while essentially expropriating private property. Mom-and-pop business owners were told to shut their doors indefinitely or face arrest. The unemployed were told it was now illegal to work for a living if their careers were deemed “nonessential.” Police officers have beaten citizens for not “social distancing” while mothers have been manhandled by cops for attempting to use playground equipment.

https://mises.org/wire/evidence-keeps-piling-lockdowns-dont-work

I’ve been saying, that since West Virginia’s greatest cause of death – one of the worst in the country – is heart disease. Yet our morbidly obese governor obviously doesn’t appreciate that fact. Our usual number of deaths due to heart disease floats just under 5,000. I wonder what it’s going to be this year? We’ll see, but it’s going to be high. This has been the year of the politician and the bureaucrat protecting themselves against the peasants. As McMaken describes, this was planned way in advance, during the Bush Administration, but at the time they viewed the concept of social distancing as “impractical, unnecessary and politically infeasible.” Now we have things like this occurring in a Presidential election:

WARREN, MICHIGAN – SEPTEMBER 09: With his audience of union leadership and journalists socially distanced to reduce the risk posed by coronavirus, Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the parking lot outside the United Auto Workers Region 1 offices on September 09, 2020 in Warren, Michigan. Biden is campaigning in Michigan, a state President Donald Trump won in 2016 by less than 11,000 votes, the narrowest margin of victory in state’s presidential election history. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

One of the reasons the Bush bureaucrats decided a lockdown was infeasible is because lockdowns don’t work:

There is more than one reason, but one major reason is that lockdowns have never been shown to be particularly effective. And this lack of success in containment must also be weighed with the very real costs of forced isolation

https://mises.org/wire/evidence-keeps-piling-lockdowns-dont-work

A 2006 paper was published, called “Disease Mitigation Measures in the Control of Pandemic Influenza,” which cal

There are no historical observations or scientific studies that support the confinement by quarantine of groups of possibly infected people for extended periods in order to slow the spread of influenza. A World Health Organization (WHO) Writing Group, after reviewing the literature and considering contemporary international experience, concluded that “forced isolation and quarantine are ineffective and impractical.” Despite this recommendation by experts, mandatory large-scale quarantine continues to be considered as an option by some authorities and government officials.

The interest in quarantine reflects the views and conditions prevalent more than 50 years ago, when much less was known about the epidemiology of infectious diseases and when there was far less international and domestic travel in a less densely populated world. It is difficult to identify circumstances in the past half-century when large-scale quarantine has been effectively used in the control of any disease. The negative consequences of large-scale quarantine are so extreme (forced confinement of sick people with the well; complete restriction of movement of large populations; difficulty in getting critical supplies, medicines, and food to people inside the quarantine zone) that this mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration.

http://www.liebertpub.com/publication.aspx?pub_id=111

But despite the 2006 conclusion, as the paper noted, politicians and bureaucrats don’t necessarily act in the best interests of people, or the nation, but rather in their own personal best interests. They will choose the fork in the road that increases their power – even if it decreases the freedom of the citizenry. That’s the clear explanation surrounding the West Virginia Governor. Clearly he’s adept at acting in his own best interests. He doesn’t pay his taxes. He doesn’t pay his bills. He obtained 24 MILLION DOLLARS IN PPP MONEY for his companies, and so on. Are we to believe that he took control over an entire state government just because he loves us, and he can’t bear to see us suffer? Where was his empathy when he was stiffing regular people and small businesses on his bills? When he said, here in West Virginia, “we’re all in this thing together,” he didn’t mention anything about the fact that the had lawyers and accountants behind the scenes getting him 24 million bucks while the rest of us peasants suffer, did he?

It’s about a power grab – not about saving lives. The evidence shows that lockdowns don’t work. They didn’t work:

Measuring from the start of the year to each state’s point of maximum lockdown—which range from April 5 to April 18—it turns out that lockdowns correlated with a greater spread of the virus. States with longer, stricter lockdowns also had larger Covid outbreaks. The five places with the harshest lockdowns—the District of Columbia, New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts—had the heaviest caseloads.

Donald Luskin, The Wall Street Journal

There are other studies, as the Misis Institute listed:

July study published by The Lancet concluded: “The authors identified a negative association between the number of days to any lockdown and the total reported cases per million, where a longer time prior to implementation of any lockdown was associated with a lower number of detected cases per million.”

In April, T.J. Rogers looked at “a simple one-variable correlation of deaths per million and days to shutdown” and found that “The correlation coefficient was 5.5%—so low that the engineers I used to employ would have summarized it as “no correlation” and moved on to find the real cause of the problem. (The trendline sloped downward—states that delayed more tended to have lower death rates—but that’s also a meaningless result due to the low correlation coefficient.)”

In May, Elaine He at Bloomberg showed “there’s little correlation between the severity of a nation’s restrictions and whether it managed to curb excess fatalities.”

In an August 1 study, also published by The Lancet, the authors concluded, “Rapid border closures, full lockdowns, and wide-spread testing were not associated with COVID-19 mortality per million people.”

https://mises.org/wire/evidence-keeps-piling-lockdowns-dont-work

The evidence shows that there was no stopping the activity of the virus, where it was already present. Not even the incredibly-obnoxious virtue-signaling step of redoing your social media profile picture with you wearing a mask, had any positive effect on the pandemic. It was nothing more than political speech. Political speech which politicized a virus. The evidence shows nothing governments did, which had any effect on the virus where it was already present:

In a paper published with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), authors Andew Atkeson et al.found that covid-19 deaths followed a similar pattern “virtually everywhere in the world” and that “Failing to account for this familiar pattern risks overstating the importance of policy mandated NPIs (non pharmaceutical intervention) for shaping the progression of this deadly pandemic.”

https://mises.org/wire/evidence-keeps-piling-lockdowns-dont-work

So does this weak correlation between lockdowns and effect on COVID justify the tyrannical actions of governors across the United States, and most especially here in West Virginia?

Extraordinary measures require extraordinary evidence. And the burden of proof is on those who seek to use the coercive power of the state to force people into their homes, cripple the economy, and abolish countless basic freedoms for the duration. Have the advocates for lockdowns made their case? It’s hard to see how they have. For one, advocates for lockdowns need to present obvious and overwhelming evidence that lockdowns bring big benefits far in excess of the no-lockdown approach. They have not done so. Moreover, they have not shown that a lack of lockdowns is anywhere near as dangerous as they have claimed in the name of pushing lockdowns to begin with. We can already see what the no-lockdown scenario looks like. It looks like Sweden, and that’s a better outcome than many prolockdown regimes can claim. Governments are nonetheless likely to continue claiming their lockdowns worked. In ancient days, a witch doctor might perform a rain dance on Tuesday and claim credit when it rained on Wednesday. Lockdowns are increasingly looking like the modern equivalent of a rain dance. 

https://mises.org/wire/evidence-keeps-piling-lockdowns-dont-work

That’s what Governor Justice is doing. He’s doing a rain dance for the public. Some thank him for it. Some hate him for it. And all suffer for it. Well, except the (executive branch) politicians and bureaucrats…..

Delegating our Freedom to a Left-Wing University

I watched a little bit of the West Virginia Governor’s daily live press conference. After he finished mumbling, he introduced our “Czar,” Dr. Clay Marsh, who is apparently the person running our State (as a Czar does) this summer, and doing so in the nature of a Far East authoritarian regime. See Singapore. This is being done without any involvement of the “free people” of West Virginia, as our Constitution calls us. Nor our elected representatives.

Our “Czar” speaking to his people today during the live cast.

This is a “Czar” by the way – the first one, actually. His name was Ivan the Terrible. He ruthlessly crushed the Russian aristocracy (you know, like the billionaire coal barons) and established autocratic (dictatorship) rule in Russian, which would continue all the way through modern times.

Who is our unelected Czar? He’s the chief health officer at WVU, overseeing their hospitals and medical school. This may provide some context as to why a Red State governor is acting like a Blue State governor, in terms of unconstitutional restrictions on individual liberties. Like most other public universities in 2020, WVU is a bastion of left-wing politics which is far out of line with the conservative West Virginia populace.

Case in point: Just a few days ago at WVU, the Chief of their campus police department was participating in a Zoom meeting – apparently an “online diversity event – and onlookers observed a #thinblueline flag inside his home. Obviously this is a pro-law enforcement flag. My town has one on the official town welcome/goodbye sign, along with the civic groups and church signs. I think people misunderstand what it actually means. But in any event, it has become a symbol of support for police officers. My criticism has always been that it implies that good cops protect the bad ones. But clearly, it means just pro-police to most people. And now the volunteer fire guys and EMS guys have their own versions. There’s probably twenty types now. It’s certainly nothing you would be surprised to find in the home of a police officer, or a bumper sticker, or whatever.

The Chief and the TBL flag.

This guy wasn’t even publicly flying his flag – it was in his house. His house!

Within hours of this TBL flag being spotted in his home, WVU professors were demanding that he be fired, and he was forced (presumably) to issue an apology, which is still now prominently displayed on WVU’s website.

“I am committed to rebuilding that trust beginning today. I am taking the flag down from my office wall,” he concluded.

Literally a screenshot off WVU’s main website. Taken today.

Even after apologizing, WVU professors were still demanding his resignation. WVU’s English Department professor retweeted the apology and commented that “[t]he Blue Lives Matter flag is associated with white supremacy.”

Professor of Biochemical Genetics, Vagner Benedito, was still calling for his resignation.

Professor Benedito continued his comments, as reported by Campus Reform:

“Campus police chief is a position we all should trust. POC will not be trusting his leadership. Moving forward, he must resign to make sure there is inclusions and equality regarding the police actions on campus!” Benedito wrote.

Benedito told Campus Reform that it while it would be “ludicrous” to expect Chedester to remove the flag from his office, he does “expect the police on campus to defend everyone, including minorities,” and believes that Chedesters’ possession of the flag demonstrates his unwillingness to do so. 

“As you already know, that flag was crafted to oppose the Black Lives Matter movement, even though historically police lives have always mattered while black lives have been taken away by systematic police brutality over and over again,” Benedito said.

Benedito added that he did not find Chedester’s apology letter “convincing.”

“If he was indeed ignorant about its meaning, he should not be in a position of so much power for being so much misinformed about the current situation of the country, especially in matters involving the police,” Benedito told Campus Reform.

“To be clear, the diverse community at WVU and allies are demanding the replacement of WVU Chief Police moving forward,” Benedito said.

https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=15266

If it were me, I would have let them fire me, and then I would have sued them for retaliation against my First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. That would be a very clear case, and it would probably do well (Hint, hint). But there’s much more.

This is the same WVU that is promoting the anti-American “1619 Project,” in an attempt to destroy our history, culture, way of life, and Constitution. This is an effort led by left-wing academics and social justice warriors to “reframe” American history. Instead of America’s founding being 1776, they teach now that the date is 1619, when the first African slaves were brought to Virginia.

https://diversity.wvu.edu/resources-and-training

Never mind the inconvenient truth that the Colony of Virginia attempted to make slavery illegal in 1763, but the bill was vetoed by King George III and Parliament (hence the phrase “no taxation without representation”). In fact, the Declaration of Independence included 27 Grievances, the first of which included complaints that England had stopped American colonies from banning or restricting slavery in their colonies, including Virginia.

In case you didn’t know, the slave trade was a major component of the British economy throughout the 18th century, as well as in the early 19th century. England didn’t even abolish slavery until the 1840s, which I’m sure was wholly unrelated to the reality that the market no longer existed for the most part, due to the loss of many of their colonies in the New World.

Even well known historians are pissed about this.

Over the last few months, a number of respected historians in America have had very critical comments about the New York Times endeavor. Jarrett Stepman, author of The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past, has collected the opinions of these historians.

Allen Guelzo is a renowned historian and professor at Gettysburg College. He called the 1619 Project an example of bad history wrapped in destructive ideology. He added that it amounted to a “conspiracy theory” that is attempting to “tarnish capitalism.”

Gordon Wood is a well-known historian of the American Revolution. I have a number of his books on my shelf. He has criticized the 1619 Project in a number of interviews. He said he was surprised that the New York Times could be “so wrong in so many ways.” He is also concerned that the material is “going out into the schools with the authority of the New York Times behind it.” He fears it will “color the views of all these youngsters who will receive the message of the 1619 Project.”

James McPherson is another respected historian. He observed that the project “left most of the history out” and was appalled that it was put together by “people who did not have a good knowledge of the subject.”

The 1619 Project, by Kerby Anderson, Point of View, https://pointofview.net/viewpoints/1619-project/

But this is what WVU is pushing/teaching. Oh, there’s more. Straight off of WVU’s website:

If it isn’t clear to you that WVU is knee deep in left-wing politics and social engineering, there’s a lot more out there on the topic if you care to look. Heck, take a look at the political donations made by WVU employees since the early 90s. Almost all to Democrats.

Let’s look specifically at the WVU Health Sciences, the WVU Medical School and the WVU Health Sciences Center, who’s guiding our feeble leader at the moment:

Again, this is from 1990 to the present. Look at how politically engaged they are. And look who they support. Look who they don’t support. Do you still think there’s no politics involved here? Do you think our Governor even knows he’s being controlled by left-wing academia? And by extension we are being controlled. I suppose the term, “Czar,” isn’t necessarily subtle irony.

Putnam County W. Va. Search Video Update No. 2

Here’s a quick update video I did for Youtube on the Dustin Elswick case – the case where the drug task force was caught on video searching his house by hidden cameras.

Update on the Putnam Search Video Case

I’ll be in federal court tomorrow, Monday, February 3, for a pretrial hearing in the other Putnam County case with a video, and will potentially be meeting with additional witnesses afterwards, if there’s time.  If you have information, please let me know.

A few days back I had to trim the video in order to take out the local TV coverage of the task force guys, where they’re walking around the trailer park, banging on doors, etc. They claimed copyright on the footage and threatened to sick their lawyers on me.  So I just took that part down.  But I assume that you can find it on their site if you look for it. At some point, I’m sure it will be evidence of record anyways.

Since the original video was uploaded, the Putnam County Sheriff has ordered an internal investigation. Right now we’re awaiting the results of that investigation, and also proceeding with our own.

PUTNAM-COUNTY-SHERIFF-STATEMENT

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I have personally met with investigators, and have provided them whatever they wanted out of my file.  I also made my client and an eyewitness available to them for questioning.  I also have received yet another video showing them inside an individual’s home, and I have also provided that to the investigators – with the individual’s consent, of course. Numerous other people have contacted us in regards to other situations involving this same group of guys, and I’m still in the process of speaking to them all.

Here are a few more photos which address important aspects of the situation. Here’s where the Putnam County Special Enforcement Unit cut the lock on my client’s gate at the end of driveway, before driving towards the house in a white truck, and what appears to be two black Ford Explorer unmarked police cruisers.

Here’s where the police officers climbed through the window to get inside the house.  They pushed in a window unit air condition. It was actually one of those indoor ACs, but it still requires a window unit for exhaust and drainage. This photos were taken immediately following the search.

Here’s where they yanked the surveillance camera cord. It’s of the type that has two plugs. One of the plugs was pulled out, and the other was ripped in half, leaving the connector still in place.

6E008E60-B176-4F50-B66E-B4508BDC83F3

How do we know it wasn’t already like that? Remember the part of the video where the guy in the SWAT outfit was walking across the bridge? (5:41 in the video) When he gets to the end of the bridge, it freezes. That’s this actual camera. And the point at which it freezes is when the damage occurs to the camera. I originally thought that camera had survived.  But no, that one was actually severed, and you see the moment it was severed.

Here’s the guy walking across the bridge:

Screen Shot 2020-02-02 at 4.16.40 PM

And here’s the exact moment that camera was disabled:

Screen Shot 2020-02-02 at 4.16.08 PM

As for what their defense is at this point, I don’t know.  But self-proclaimed “Bailiff” of the Putnam Sheriff’s Department did confront me on social media and try to set me straight on the facts, and the law. He implied that the officers entered with the landlord’s consent. The only problem with that is, a landlord cannot authorize law enforcement to search their tenant’s residence. That’s Fourth Amendment 101, which is why a search warrant is still required even to search the hotel room of an overnight guest (minus a ticking time bomb or something) They can’t just ask the hotel manager for permission to search. A warrant is still required. Secondly, the landlord was questioned very early on, and denied knowing anything about it. That may have been a lie.  But if it was, then they can point fingers at each other when it comes time to be placed under oath. But it still won’t be a defense to an illegal search by law enforcement.

As for a criminal investigation, I have no knowledge of any agency investigating them criminally.  That doesn’t mean it’s not happening. But nobody has notified myself, nor my client, of there being one. That’s why I believe it’s important to share this information with the public. In the end, the citizens should be informed of what their government is doing. Or not doing.

WV prison guard stops our client at gunpoint in Doddridge County, WV

Check out this new case. Police officer impersonation incident by a WV Division of Corrections CO / Parole officer. We met with investigators already, who were extremely concerned about what they saw here….

If you have any information, please contact us.

Putnam County Creepy Task Force Search Video

Just in case you haven’t seen this making the rounds yet, I uploaded this to Youtube. It’s too big for this site, and I’m done hosting videos directly to Facebook, because they censor everything these days.  The video is pretty self-explanatory.  We will be filing a federal lawsuit.  If you know something, or you have a video of your own, or a similar incident, please let us know.

Update on the Sizemore “search and seizure” civil rights case

Here’s an interesting, and academic (for Constitution nerds), update on the Sizemore federal civil rights lawsuit, which had been in the news recently.

This is the one where the drug “task force” had found heroin in the client’s home, but the case was dismissed after a federal judge found that the officers had made numerous false statements to the magistrate in order to get the search warrant.  This is also actually the case I last posted about, since I haven’t been posting much on here lately.

Should the fact that officers were found to have made false statements under oath to get a fraudulent warrant, have been allowed to go away quietly since drugs were actually found, or should something have been done about it?  The news media wasn’t happy about it, necessarily, but I elected to do something – heroin or no heroin.  And here’s why:

Either “equal justice under the law,” etched into the walls of the Supreme Court, is just decoration, or it actually is enforced and put into practice.

Here is the response brief we just filed to some of the defendants’ motion to dismiss.  I really enjoyed writing this one, because it was as if I were back in my old baseball days, and being a kid who was bigger than most, the pitcher gave me an underhand slow pitch, just begging me to hit it out of the park.  Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t think so.  I really look forward to reading the outcome of this one.  I don’t think it’s going to turn out like they had hoped . . . .

 

Here is the motion to dismiss the defendants filed:

 

Here is the original Complaint itself:

 

West Virginia State Police and asset forfeiture in the news this weekend. The ugly truth.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail had an article this weekend on a New Jersey couple who were pulled over by a West Virginia State Trooper on their way to a casino.  They had $10,000.00 with them.  The state trooper took all but $2.00 and sent them on their way.  He also took their cell phone (presumably to search it for evidence of a crime, such as drug dealing).

This highlights what is perhaps the ugliest, most unconstitutional, most nazi-ish, thuggish, and un-American behavior engaged-in by the government at the present time: asset forfeiture.  This is the way it works.  You get pulled over for a traffic offense.  You have cash on you, or in the vehicle.  The officer seizes the cash, because they consider the cash itself to constitute evidence of being a drug dealer.  They don’t have to charge you criminally whatsoever.  They then serve you with a notice that, if you want to redeem your cash, you have to contact the court and the prosecuting attorney, and formally claim the cash.  In so doing, the process implies that have to explain to the court, and the prosecutor, where you obtained the money, etc.  The theory is, that drug dealers are not going to claim the money.  The the law enforcement agency gets to keep it, and the prosecutor’s office gets 10%.  Talk about a conflict of interest . . . .

In reality, the law provides that in order to keep the currency which was seized from the citizens, the State, pursuant to W. Va. Code § 60A-7-703(a)(6) (1988), is required to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that there is a substantial connection between the property seized and an illegal drug transaction.  This finding is in addition to the initial finding of probable cause that an illegal act under the drug law has occurred. See Syllabus Point 4 of State v. Forty-Three Thousand Dollars, No. 31224 (W. Va. 11/26/2003) (W. Va. 2003).

Only after the State has filed a civil forfeiture petition, and met its’ burden of proof by a preponderance is the citizen required to prove how he/she/they came into ownership of the currency. Id. at 6.

In the case of the couple in the Gazette article, Dimities Patlias and  Tonya Smith, they got nowhere until they contacted the media.  The reporter, Jake Zuckerman, started making some phone calls, including to the prosecuting attorney, and voila, their money was returned in full.  Now the couple is rightly pissed off, and much of the public is learning about this un-American scheme for the first time.

The Prosecuting Attorney of Jefferson County, who returned the money is a good guy.  Kudos to him for doing the right thing after looking into it.  I actually had an asset forfeiture case with him previously, and he returned the money in that case as well.  I also represented some of his family members in a real estate related jury trial, which we won, thankfully.  This is a problem in a national scale.  This occurs everywhere, and is practiced by the federal government as well.