CHARLESTON - A Logan County woman is suing the West Virginia State Police and one of its officers for what she calls a needless yearlong journey through the criminal justice system.
Patricia E. Trogdon filed suit on Feb. 18 in Kanawha Circuit Court against the West Virginia State Police, and Trooper J.R. Brewer. In her two-count complaint, Trogdon, 40 of Kistler, alleges she was not only arrested without provocation by Brewer for obstruction in July 2008, but also had to defend against the charge for a year before it was dismissed.
According to her suit, Brewer entered her store on July 16, 2008, investigating allegations she sold tobacco to minors. For reasons unclear, Brewer became angry with a clerk who was on duty and left the store.
Shortly thereafter, Trogdon alleges Brewer returned to the store, and demanded to speak with her. The clerk then called Trogdon who lives behind the store.
Upon entering the store, Brewer "without provocation" pushed her against a wall, handcuffed her and placed her under arrest. She was taken to the Southwestern Regional Jail in Holden where she was held overnight, and released the next morning.
In her suit, Trogdon alleges that neither prior to her incarceration or the morning after was she arraigned before a magistrate. Instead, she was notified by the Logan County Magistrate Clerk's Office via a letter dated July 24, 2008, of an "initial appearance" hearing scheduled for Aug. 5.
Records show she was released on $1,000 personal recognizance bond. In addition to obstruction, Trogdon was also charged with one count of selling tobacco to a minor.
After making her appearance, Trogdon received a letter dated Aug. 7 notifying her a bench trial in her case was scheduled for Nov. 5, 2008. Records show the trial was continued to Dec. 17, 2008, only to be continued twice more to March 10, and July 27.
However, on a motion by the Logan County Prosecutor's Office, Magistrate Leonard Codispoti dismissed the case five days before the July 27 trial. In addition to Brewer citing Trogdon individually, rather than a corporate officer on the selling charge, the Prosecutor's Office cited its failure to try the case within a year of her arrest as grounds for its dismissal.
Trogdon's suit makes claims against the State Police, and Brewer for malicious prosecution and abuse of process. She alleges that not only was probable cause lacking for her arrest, but also the Prosecutor's Office was provided with evidence to support a dismissal of the charges as early as March 2009.
As a result of her arrest, incarceration and waiting a year for the charges to be dismissed, Trogdon alleges she incurred "emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation, damage to her reputation and out of pocket expenses." She seeks unspecified damages, interest, attorney fees and court costs.
She is represented by Charleston attorney Jim Lees. The case is assigned to Judge Carrie Webster.
Kanawha Circuit Court, case number 10-C-304