CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Paul Sheridan's two decades in the West Virginia Attorney General's Office ended abruptly last week.
Sheridan led the office's civil rights division, which represents people who say they have been discriminated against by employers and landlords. Sheridan said a top aide to new Attorney General Patrick Morrisey fired him without warning on Jan. 28.
It's not unexpected that Morrisey, a Republican, would build his own team after he defeated Democratic incumbent Darrell McGraw last fall. But Morrisey promised then he would "meet with the incumbent's office to get a good handle around the existing docket."
Sheridan's account of his firing suggests Morrisey's administration did not make a full effort to understand his specialized division, which consisted of Sheridan, two attorneys and two staffers.
Sheridan, a 22-year veteran of the office, was given two days last week to impart knowledge to his successor, former Putnam Circuit Court Judge J. Robert Leslie, a Democrat.
"We talked about a handful of cases is what we talked about - at a fairly superficial level," Sheridan said in a telephone interview.
Sheridan handled legal work for the Human Rights Commission, which is supposed to make sure employers and landlords don't discriminate against West Virginians because of race, religion, color, nationality, ancestry, sex, age, blindness or disability.
Last week, Morrisey complained in a radio interview that the office lacked a centralized filing system and that he "inherited a pretty big mess" from McGraw.
Sheridan said he tried to contact Morrisey's transition team shortly after the election but never heard back.
Sheridan said his communications with Morrisey's team consisted of two memos and then talks with Leslie.
The first memo was a detailed list of his outstanding cases. That list was prepared after the election at the request of McGraw's top aide, Fran Hughes.
Sheridan said Morrisey's team then asked him to redo the list in a standardized format. He said Morrisey's team sent a directive the day before the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend asking for that second memo.
"Here I am the head of the division, but I can't ask anybody else to spend the weekend doing this - I don't have the ability to say, 'Let's pay everybody overtime to do this,' " Sheridan said.
So, he spent the weekend preparing the list in a new format for the workweek that started on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
Less than a week later, Sheridan was fired.
Sheridan said he received a call on the morning of Jan. 28 to see if he could meet with Morrisey's chief counsel, Dan Greear. Greear ran against McGraw and lost in 2008.