Attorney says former client to blame for his injuries

By Steve Korris | May 9, 2008

HUNTINGTON - John David Mooney withdrew a guilty plea and gained freedom after five years in federal prison, but his former attorney still thinks he's guilty.

Michael Frazier of Huntington, answering a malpractice suit that Mooney filed against him in U.S. District Court April 4, blames Mooney for his own incarceration.

"The alleged injuries and damages of the plaintiff, if any, were caused by his own conduct," Michael Fisher of Charleston wrote April 24 on behalf of Frazier and his firm, Frazier and Oxley.

"The plaintiff is barred from attempting to establish that he was innocent in the underlying criminal matter," Fisher wrote.

He wrote that Frazier and his firm did not guarantee success.

Mooney pleaded guilty in 2003 to a charge that he was a felon possessing a gun.

At a hearing before U. S. District Judge Robert Chambers, he tried to withdraw the plea but Frazier wouldn't let him.

Chambers imposed a 15-year sentence.

Mooney appealed, and this year the Fourth Circuit federal appellate court set him free.

The Fourth Circuit declared that Frazier's representation "fell below an objective standard of reasonableness."

Mooney's suit seeks damages not only from Frazier but also from three Huntington policemen and an agent of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

His attorney, Nicholas Preservati of Charleston, wrote in the complaint that both of Mooney's parents died while he served time and Mooney missed both funerals.

As of May 7, the city and the bureau had not answered Mooney's complaint.

District Judge Joseph Goodwin presides over the case.

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