CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A State Police trooper among those being sued by a Mingo County man in federal court over his involvement in a corruption scandal claims that his immunity in a criminal investigation should protect him in the civil case.
Charleston attorney Victor Flanagan filed a motion Thursday to dismiss his client, Trooper Brandon Moore, from the civil lawsuit filed by Robert Woodruff, the man former Mingo Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury plotted to have arrested to force his secretary, Woodruff's wife Kim, into an affair with him.
Moore was granted immunity in the criminal case against Thornsbury in return for his cooperation and testimony but the criminal charge against the judge has since been dropped.
Flanagan claims witnesses who testify in court, including police officers, are absolutely immune to any claims stemming from their testimony and that witnesses in courtroom proceedings receive absolute immunity from damages liability based on their testimony.
Woodruff's attorney, Richard Neely, wrote in a response filed Friday to Moore's motion that the assertion that Moore had immunity for anything said before the grand jury didn't change his liability for his participation in the conspiracy against Woodruff.
Flanagan also contends that the statute of limitations has expired, adding that Woodruff had one year from Dec. 2, 2008, to file a claim. Moore arrested Woodruff on Dec. 2, 2008, and charged him with grand larceny, receiving stolen property and obtaining money under false pretenses, charges that were dismissed in January, 2009.
Robert Woodruff alleges in his lawsuit that his arrest was the product of one of Thornsbury's schemes to get him out of the way so that the judge could pursue a relationship with Kim Woodruff. Neely responded that the statute of limitation didn't begin until the person knew that they had been wronged, in this case Woodruff learned about the conspiracy in September when Thornsbury was charged.
"Certainly the facts stated demonstrate that there was every effort to conceal the conspiracy from (Woodruff): It is the very nature of a conspiracy that the conspiracy be secret," Neely wrote.