Jezioro

ELKINS – While West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Frank Jezioro appeals a court order striking down a ban on soliciting in state parks, the judge who signed the order prepares to assess attorney's fees against Jezioro.

On July 13, U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey set a July 17 deadline for Jezioro to respond to a motion of the state Constitution Party for legal fees and costs.

He set a July 24 deadline for the party to itemize fees and costs.

Bailey ruled in June that West Virginia legislators violated the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when they banned soliciting in parks.

His ruling favored Constitution Party leaders who want to circulate petitions at National Hunting and Fishing Days in Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park.

Park rangers chased party leaders away from the event in 2007.

When party leaders Denzil Sloan and Jeff Becker sued Jezioro, he responded that they should have applied for a permit like other exhibitors at the event.

Bailey disagreed, ruling that no one needs a permit to solicit in any park on any day.

Sloan and Becker moved for an award of legal fees, arguing that success in a constitutional challenge entitles the winner to fees.

Jezioro responded two ways. He asked the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, to reverse Bailey, and he asked Bailey for a status conference.

At a July 9 status conference Jezioro's attorney, Keith Gamble of Morgantown, asked if the party planned to pursue claims that Bailey's order didn't address.

For the party, Joseph Wallace and John Wallace of Elkins told Gamble they wouldn't pursue other claims because they couldn't obtain any further relief.

Bailey asked both sides if he should rule on the fee motion or wait for the appeal.

"Both parties agreed that if the Court were to rule on the motion, it would expedite the appeal process in certain respects," Bailey wrote on July 13.

Joseph Wallace and John Wallace represent the Constitution Party in association with the Rutherford Institute of Charlottesville, Virginia.

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