CHARLES PATRICK HEASTER, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE 100 QUALIFIED PETITIONERS, Petitioner
GREGORY L. ROBINSON, Respondent
Doddridge County No. 16-C-57
petitioner herein, and petitioner below, Charles Patrick
Heaster, individually and as representative of the 100
qualified petitioners, appeals the May 23, 2017, final order
of the Circuit Court of Doddridge County dismissing the
petition to remove the respondent herein and respondent
below, Gregory L. Robinson, from his office of
our thorough and considered review of the parties'
arguments, the appendix record, and the pertinent
authorities, we find that the circuit court committed no
error in granting judgment as a matter of law to the
respondent. Consequently, we affirm the circuit court's
May 23, 2017, order. Because this case does not present a new
or substantial question of law, and for the reasons set forth
herein, we find the issuance of a memorandum decision is
appropriate pursuant to Rule 21(c) of the West Virginia Rules
of Appellate Procedure.
November 2016, 100 citizens of Doddridge County signed a
petition, pursuant to West Virginia Code § 6-6-7 (2016),
to remove the respondent, Gregory L. Robinson, from his
office as an elected commissioner of the County Commission of
Doddridge County. The petition alleged that Mr.
Robinson had committed official misconduct by the following
[C]ircumventing a lawful action of the Doddridge County
Commission on April 19, 2016. On that date the County
Commission voted to donate $50, 000.00 to the Doddridge
County EMS. Following the meeting, [Mr. Robinson] without
official authority and against the laws of the State of West
Virginia directed the Clerk to stop payment on the check.
[Mr. Robinson] has and continues to attend meetings of the
Doddridge County Ambulance Authority interjecting himself
into the deliberative and decision making process of that
body in violation of the laws of the State of West Virginia
including, but not limited to, wrongfully removing duly
appointed Board Members. Such conduct is official misconduct.
[Mr. Robinson] has permitted, encouraged and directed the
wrongful and wasteful expenditure of moneys belonging to the
citizens of Doddridge County for the benefit of citizens of
other West Virginia Counties by continuing to support the
deficit spending and operation of the Doddridge County
Ambulance Authority which is neglect of his duty as a County
[Mr. Robinson] has encouraged, directed and participated in
the purchase with county funds of equipment without
competitive bid in violation of West Virginia law.
Circuit Court of Doddridge County forwarded to the Chief
Justice of this Court a copy of the petition and a request to
impanel and convene a three-judge court in accordance with
the provisions of West Virginia Code § 6-6-7(g)
(2016). By administrative order dated
November 29, 2016, the Chief Justice appointed three circuit
judges to sit on the three-judge panel.
three-judge panel held an evidentiary hearing on April 18,
2017, at which the petitioner presented the testimony of
County Clerk Beth A. Rogers and Robert Beamer, who was a
member of the Doddridge County Ambulance Authority
("DCAA") Board of Directors until the County
Commission voted to remove him. The petitioner also placed
various documents into evidence.
the petitioner's presentation of evidence, the respondent
moved for judgment as a matter of law, which was granted by
the panel. On May 23, 2017, the panel entered its final order
in which it found that while it is undisputed that the
respondent ordered a stop payment of the $50, 000 check to
the Doddridge County Emergency Squad, Inc.
("DCEMS"), a non-profit corporation, "the
totality of the evidence presented inexorably fails to prove
that the actions of Commissioner Robinson in this respect
were willful, unlawful or otherwise constitute[d] official
misconduct . . . as a matter of law."
the testimony of County Clerk Rogers, the panel observed that
it was "factually sparse in nature." The circuit
court further indicated that
[w]ith respect to the exhibits that were admitted without
objection, the Court finds that collectively, they are at
best a muddled assortment of meeting agendas and minutes that
while they represent actions taken by the Commission as a
whole, fail in all respects to establish a prima
facie case of willful or unlawful official misconduct on
the part of Commissioner Robinson.
panel similarly found little value in Mr. Beamer's
testimony noting that
[w]hile petitioners want this Court to accept the testimony
of Mr. Beamer without pause, such cannot be done. Mr. Beamer
was forthright in his animosity towards Commissioner
Robinson, including his steadfast belief that he was
responsible for his removal from the DCAA Board of Directors.
Notwithstanding the testimony of Mr. Beamer, the petitioners
produced no other evidence to support these charges. Namely,
noticeably absent from the record is testimony of other DCAA
Board members to corroborate Mr. Beamer's testimony;
minutes or other credible documentation from proceedings of
the DCAA Board of Directors to [sic] may have assisted in
establishing official misconduct as charged on the part of
the panel considered significant the fact that several of the
respondent's alleged wrongful actions were taken as a
member of the majority of the county commission ...