Harvey D. Peyton
In your latest Our View ("No defense for the indefensible," April 7), you refer to "cheap" efforts on my part to point out "unfairness of juries" and "incompetence of judges" as part of the current debate over West Virginia courts.
You assert that no such claims have been made.
Shame on you.
The Harris survey that is specifically mentioned in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's ads and linked to Internet versions of those ads specifically rates our juries as 49th in the area of "bias" and our judges as 50th in the area of "competence."
If these are the findings of the survey that is the basis for your ads, how can you say the issues haven't been raised?
Shame on you for trying to divert attention from what the survey says so you can substitute the Chamber's message in its place. I guess it makes it easier to sell your probust to the public if they don't know what the underlying claimed facts really are.
How about this: Print one example of the abuse you claim exists in the circuit courts of this state. Give the name of the case or cases, the court where pending, the names of the lawyers and the judges and a factual recitation of what problem you believe each example illustrates. Then we can talk about specifics and see if each example is really representative of an overall problem or just an anomaly in the system.
If it is demonstrative of a real problem, then we can all work to fix it. So long as the Chamber chooses to frame the debate in catchphrases and generalities, the wasteful debate that has taken place for the last several weeks will continue.
Are you and the Chamber up to the challenge? I know you are striving to allow access to all sides of this debate, so I hope you will print this response in your next issue and tell us when we may expect the case-specific information needed to evaluate the issues.
Harvey D. Peyton
Peyton Law Firm
EDITOR'S NOTE: Peyton is president of the West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association.