Professor James Sample is quoted in a Feb. 11, 2014, ABC News story about West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis’ move “to punish an attorney who asked that she be disqualified from a pending case because of what the lawyer argued was a conflict of interest between the judge and opposing counsel.”
The story is the latest follow-up to the ABC News Nightline investigative report “U.S. Lear Jet Justice in West Virginia? A ‘Circus Masquerading as a Court,’ ” in which Professor Sample is also quoted.
‘Circus’ Continues? Judge Goes After Lawyer Who Challenged Her Over Controversial Jet Deal
By Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross
Feb. 11, 2014
A West Virginia Supreme Court Justice is seeking to punish an attorney who asked that she be disqualified from a pending case because of what the lawyer argued was a conflict of interest between the judge and opposing counsel.
The lawyer’s attempt to have West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis remove herself from hearing a nursing home case came in January after an ABC News investigation revealed how a Mississippi attorney with a case headed to the state’s high court had privately purchased a $1 million airplane from Davis’s husband. The request came in one of two new nursing home cases headed to West Virginia’s high court, and opposing attorneys in both instances have requested Davis step aside.
But in her first response to a recusal motion, Davis turned on one of the attorneys, accusing him of leveling a “false and misleading assertion” against her. She referred the matter to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for investigation, a move that took legal ethics experts by surprise.
“I just find it astonishing,” said James Sample, a judicial ethics expert at Hofstra University who has written extensively on the West Virginia court. “To threaten the attorney, and implicitly to threaten attorneys generally who might question her on recusal grounds is really an abuse of the position.”