H.John Rogers, candidate and character, could be disbarred by state Supreme Court
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An often-contentious West Virginia attorney and former candidate for the state Supreme Court is now being considered by that high court for disbarment.
H. John Rogers of Wetzel County was convicted of false swearing and misuse of the state mental hygiene process after pleading nolo contendre in 2011. The state Office of Disciplinary Counsel recommended that his law license be suspended for that conviction.
Senior Counsel Andrea Hinerman said the request was made because of Rogers' misdemeanor conviction and the circumstances surrounding his involuntary commitment of restaurant owner Jeffrey Shade in July 2009.
According to court documents, Rogers contended that Shade assaulted him twice and then he filed for an involuntary custody of mental health examination.
Shade was taken to a Wheeling psychiatric facility, but released later the same day. Medical staff said there was "no probable cause" to keep him.
Some witnesses to the initial incident said no actual assault occurred, and that Rogers poked Shade in the chest.
In Tuesday's hearing, Rogers' defense attorney George Daugherty said the two men were friends, and that Rogers was trying to help Shade.
"H. John Rogers did what he had done many times," Daugherty said. "He got a mental health warrant against a friend, hoping it would shock him into sobriety, and AA.
"I'm here today to argue that what he did was utilize this particular device to hopefully get a friend's attention, and hopefully get him into sobriety," Daugherty said.
"He has done this before," he said. "It has worked before. If it goes wrong, they never forgive you. If it does work, they never forget you."
Justice Robin Davis asked, "If you file a mental health on someone, no matter how well-intentioned it is, is that appropriate?"
Daugherty responded, "It's called an intervention."
He said such tactics are often successful, and he pointed to Betty Ford as an example.
But Hinerman disagreed.
"In this case, it wasn't just an intervention, where they went to his house and tried to persuade him to seek treatment. It was a filing of false information about what happened at that cafe.
"The hearing panel did address the respondent's pure heart," Hinerman said. "But it did not outweigh the aggravating facts in this case and the underlying evidence in this case.
"He stands convicted of those matters," she said. "That is sufficient to impose discipline in the matter."
Davis said she was troubled by the fact that Rogers pleaded nolo contendre in the criminal case, and now challenges the ethics violation and the annulment of his license.
Daugherty said Rogers wanted to "get it over with."
Rogers was sentenced to jail, but the sentence was suspended and he was placed on probation.
In her brief to the Supreme Court, Hinerman said Rogers violated duties owed to the public, to the legal system and to the legal profession.
Rogers ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Supreme Court last year. He has also been a candidate for governor and the legislature.
In 1980, Rogers punched a WSAZ-TV reporter in the eye when he asked a question about his treatment in a mental facility. At the time, Rogers was announcing his candidacy for the United States Senate against Robert C. Byrd. Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4832.