LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Justice Davis being wrongfully portrayed

By Dickerson | Jan 20, 2015

Dear Editor:

I am the United Steelworkers District 1 Staff Representative who believes in our system of justice. Although not perfect, it is the best in the world. I believe in our judicial system to the point that I will defend it when wrongfully attacked.

Last month, ABC News ran a story that implied that Justice Robin Davis of the West Virginia Supreme Court, and her husband, attorney Scott Segal, had done something improper. I have no personal relationship with Justice Davis or her husband, however, I believe it is our duty to defend our judicial system and officers when wrongfully criticized.

I am generally familiar with many of Justice Davis' opinions and her reputation. I am likewise familiar with the reputation of attorney Scott Segal. Justice Davis has been a member of our Supreme Court for many years. In years past, there were conflicts among the various justices, and Justice Davis was, in large part, responsible for eliminating those conflicts and captaining the Supreme Court to be one of the most progressive and efficient courts in our country.

Justice Davis is known for treating all litigants and attorneys equally. She is a student of the law and has authored many opinions which have served as the basic for progressing laws nationally. Her credibility and honesty are impeccable. ABC News apparently obtained the headline-grabbing quote from an out-of-state attorney who called our court a circus. He isn't even an attorney who practices in our state on a regular basis. Did ABC check to see if this person had any reason to be biased or any real experience to render such an opinion?

The article fails to emphasize that Justice Davis' opinion (which was a 4-1 ruling, meaning three other Supreme Court justices also voted with her and even without her vote the result would have been the same) actually reduced the jury's verdict by almost $50 million. One would have thought the plaintiff's lawyer receiving the $50 million reduction would be the person that would be upset and that the nursing home that was found guilty of having terribly mistreated one of our senior citizens would have been relieved that the ruling authored by Justice Davis had saved them millions. I have never heard anyone even hint that Justice Davis was anything other than honest and fair.

Attorney Segal has handled cases throughout the state of West Virginia and has a reputation that is likewise impeccable. Any suggestion that selling a plane through a third-party broker for fair market value is inappropriate is illogical. As already pointed out by others, it was his to sell, not Justice Davis'. As already noted, the person who bought the plane had his client's trial verdict reduced by $50 million.

Judges and justices are not permitted, by rule, to even know who donates to their campaign. There is no indication that Justice Davis had any knowledge who had donated to her campaign. Most of her campaign funds were paid for by her and her husband. To the extent people donated to her was because they believe she was and is a fantastic jurist and should be re-elected, which she was.

Hoppy Kercheval ran a good article on Dec. 4, 2014, which appropriately characterized the media blitz as having taken aim on Justice Robin Davs but missed. He was right. In the age of reality shows and "gotcha" journalism too often, like here, the headline is not the real story.

ABC sold its program which was a whole lot about nothing. Maybe it would be more productive to help make sure that our senior citizens receive proper care in our nursing homes rather than taking pot shots at a woman who has helped shape many laws in this state that protect our elderly citizens and children.

John Saunders


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