Appointment of special judge sought in Dues case

By Lawrence Smith | Dec 13, 2007

CHARLESTON –A civil case alleging fraud on behalf of two Kanawha judicial officers may resume again soon as all remaining circuit judges have recused themselves.

On Dec. 5, Kanawha Circuit Court Administrator Steven C. Hanley sent a letter to state Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis asking for appointment of a special judge in the case of Nicholas Loan and Mortgage v. Theodore R. "Ted" Dues Jr. and Mona Dues. In his letter, Hanley said, "For the various reasons set forth, each of the judges feel that their respective recusal is justified."

"I will very much appreciate your consideration and assignment of this matter to be heard by a judge outside the Thirteenth Judicial District," Hanley said in his letter.

According to court records, Nicholas is alleging the Dues, who work for the court as a mental hygiene commissioner, and juvenile referee, respectively, committed fraud when they refinanced a 2001 Infiniti QX4, and a 1989 Mercedes-Benz 420 SEL in 2004. In its complaint and suit filed Jan. 17, the Summersville financial services company alleged that the Dues converted for their personal use an insurance check meant to pay for bodywork on the Infiniti, and lost possession of the Mercedes.

In their reply dated Feb. 12, the Dues, who are representing themselves pro se, denied the allegations.

Court records show that after the case was filed, it was assigned to Judge Irene C. Berger. After Berger recused herself citing a "personal friendship" with the Dues, the case was then assigned to judges Jennifer Bailey Walker and Paul Zakaib, respectfully.

Like Berger, they recused themselves citing a personal or professional friendship. According to court records, the case was reassigned to Berger on March 19.

On Oct. 17, Nicholas' attorney J. Steven Hunter filed certificates of service for discovery requests he made on the Dues. Included in his filing was a letter addressed to Kanawha Circuit Clerk Cathy S. Gatson asking if a judge had finally been assigned to hear the case.

"I know that in the past most of the Judges have recused themselves in matters related to Mr. and Mrs. Dues," Hunter said in his letter.
A handwritten note on Hunter's letter dated Oct. 18 said the case was assigned to Berger.

When The Record contacted Berger about why she had taken seven months to recuse herself again from the case, a woman who answered the telephone at her office said the reassignment was an error, and she was going to call the clerk's office to fix it.

Court records show the case was assigned to Judge Louis H. "Duke" Bloom on Oct. 25.

After Bloom, judges James Stucky, Tod J. Kaufman and Charles E. King followed suit and recused themselves from the case over the next month.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 07-C-118

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