Appointment of special assistant AGs terminated

By John O'Brien | Apr 20, 2006

Darrell McGraw

CHARLESTON - The office of state Attorney General Darrell McGraw, Jr. has terminated the Jan. 27 appointments of Weirton attorneys M. Eric Frankovitch and Michael Simon as special assistant Attorneys General.

One company that filed a lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court challenging the appointments already has withdrawn its complaint, and the other is preparing to do the same.

"We just terminated their appointments," Chief Deputy Attorney General Fran Hughes said Thursday. "The subpoenas they filed as special assistant Attorney Generals are null and void."

Cooper Wiring Devices, Inc., and Leviton Manufacturing, Inc. both filed complaints in March stating that subpoenas issued by Frankovitch and Simon in February requesting safety testing records regarding an electrical outlet the companies produced were without power.

Frankovitch and Simon currently are working on a civil case in Marshall County, and they were appointed by McGraw to act on behalf of the Attorney General's office.

Frankovitch said he received no payment as an employee of the office. He would only profit from a settlement.

Cooper and Leviton said McGraw overstepped his constitutional boundaries with the appointment of outside attorneys.

"CWD seeks an order … declaring that the Attorney General's conduct, through his own office and through purported agents who are private lawyers… is unlawful and is beyond the Attorney General's constitutionally and statutorily prescribed authority," Cooper's complaint said.

"They've revoked the appointments, but they've also agreed to close the investigations with regard to my client," said Charleston attorney Joanna Tabit of Steptoe & Johnson, who was representing Leviton.

"I think they appreciated the legal position we set forth in our petition."

Now, the companies have to worry only about the civil case in Marshall County led by Frankovitch and Simon.

"We are no longer representing the Attorney General's office," Frankovitch said, refusing additional comment.

Cooper filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal April 11 that was signed by Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman, effectively closing the case in Kanawha County. With the subpoenas' power nonexistent, Cooper and Leviton have no reason to pursue their cases.

The civil cases press on, Frankovitch said, with little recent development.

"There's nothing significantly new," he said. "There have been some motions filed, just the flow of litigation process."

Charleston attorney Charles Woody of Spillman, Thomas & Battle was the attorney for Cooper.

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