Martin speaks out about fight

by John O'Brien |
Jul. 26, 2006, 4:45am


CHARLESTON - Eight months after the battery charge against him was dropped, Charleston attorney Robert Martin says he has issued an apology to everyone who deserves one.

That doesn't include the fellow lawyer he admits to assaulting.

Martin, an insurance defense attorney with Bailey and Wyant, made that clear when he spoke about the incident Monday. In November, Michael Fisher filed a complaint with a Monongalia County magistrate stating Martin had struck him with a beer can and punched him in the head before a West Virginia University football game.

"I apologized to everyone who matters except him and (Martin's ex-wife Cheryl Simpson)," Martin said. "I'm not going to apologize to them about anything. They deserve more than what they got."

Martin graduated from WVU's College of Law in 1979 and since then has fought in a courtroom in every county in the state. He admits to hitting Fisher in the chest with a nearly full beer can when he spotted him walking through the law school parking lot with Simpson.

Martin says Simpson and Fisher, who both work at Offutt, Fisher and Nord in Charleston, were having an affair and offered a copy of their reservations for a trip to Miami last August as proof.

He also says he had nearly 30 phone calls from fellow attorneys who said they spotted Simpson and Fisher acting "a little too close" at Stonewall Resort in Lewis County while he was still married to Simpson.

Fisher could not be reached for comment.

"Here they come walking up the stairs of the law school, and I threw that beer as hard as I could and hit him in the chest with him," Martin said. "Then I invited him, with some very colorful language, to come up the stairs."

When Fisher stumbled coming up the stairs, Martin said he began punching him and knocked him to the ground before some law students pulled him off.

Martin says he broke three fingers in the fight, which might sound like a drunken brawl to some. But Martin claims he hadn't touched alcohol all day before being given the beer he hit Fisher with, and that he had only taken a sip out of it before throwing it.

"I'd been married to her for five years and there's no way in hell I could ever get her to go to a football game," Martin said. "I went up with one of my sons. I have a house in Morgantown. I had not a thing to drink, honest to God, before I went up to meet some friends in the law school parking lot."

After the incident, Fisher filed a complaint in Monongalia Magistrate Court. It was dropped a few days later after a meeting between the two.

Fisher's letter to Monongalia Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Dimas Reyes says, "I have had a meeting with Mr. Martin in which he has assured me that he does intend to engage in any further inappropriate conduct toward me."

Martin says it wasn't as civil as that statement sounds.

"I hired a lawyer and then (Fisher) asked to meet with me because he didn't want it to happen again," Martin said. "I met with him and explained to him why he was a moron and that he hadn't given any thought to that warrant."

Martin says the reason Fisher dropped the charges was to avoid he and Simpson being called as witnesses and having the entire situation recorded.

Afterwards, Martin said his previous firm -- Campbell, Woods, Bagley, Emerson, McNeer and Herndon -- supported him, as did the state Bar. His later relocation to Bailey and Wyant was merely coincidental.

He insists that the incident has not hurt his reputation as an attorney.

"After the thing hit the paper and it was on channel 3, I got tons of e-mails and phone calls from people saying, 'I'm sorry but way to go,'" he said. "A lot of people felt the apology was appropriate. I'm a relatively well-known lawyer, (and) I shouldn't have done that.

"It's had no impact on me. If I was a plaintiffs lawyer, it would've helped."

He even joked it could've been the start of a new advertising campaign.

"Some people have had some great ideas for ads," he said, "like, 'Bob Martin is proven fighter' and 'He will fight for you.'"

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