Justices to hear case to retire Cabell magistrate

By Steve Korris | May 16, 2008

Qualls

CHARLESTON - Cabell County Magistrate Alvie Qualls, foggy from a stroke and weakening in heart and mind, reverted to an adolescent lusting for a ride down Snake Road.

Qualls, who among other embarrassments told assistant Kimberly Adkins he would like to take her down that lover's lane, faces a hearing May 21 that could end his career.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals will hear a recommendation of involuntary retirement from the Judicial Investigation Commission.

"The investigation in this matter has reported a sad but troubling litany of statements which declare that the Respondent is simply unable to continue to perform his judicial duties because of his failing physical and mental capabilities," wrote disciplinary counsel Charles Garten. "Circuit court judges who have known the Respondent for many years and many of whom consider him a good friend have stated this position.

"Associates who work with him daily and assist him in conducting court have indicated his inability to continue.

"While this is a depressing and perhaps not befitting culmination of the Respondent's long career, this Court has said many times that the purpose of judicial disciplinary proceedings is the preservation and enhancement of public confidence in the honor, integrity, dignity and efficiency of the members of the judiciary and the system of justice."

The Supreme Court of Appeals suspended Qualls with pay March 24. He makes about $50,000 a year.

In spite of the action Qualls, 78, refused to retire, denied he said anything wrong, and ran for re-election.

In the Democratic primary May 13, Qualls was defeated while he lied in a hospital bed. He was released from St. Mary's Medical Center on May 14.

Despite his protests of innocence, Cabell County circuit judges told the judicial commission Qualls needs to quit and one said he could cause legal problems for the county.

Qualls already has smeared the solemn pages of the Supreme Court of Appeals by forcing the state to identify every dirty remark.

Adkins didn't know what Snake Road meant, but usually she and others who worked in the courthouse understood perfectly what he meant.

Most of his comments ranked lower than those of "Beavis & Butthead."

According to one woman, he said he would need a gallon of Viagra to keep up with her.

While he expressed his fantasies, he also slipped in performance of his duties, according to Garten.

His current assistant, not named in the brief, testified that Qualls did not concentrate well and she often had to repeat things to him at hearings.

She said he had trouble following conversations of police and attorneys.

Qualls's doctor, Stephen Sebert, unintentionally confirmed his disability in a letter seeking delay in his discipline.

Sebert wrote Feb. 22 that Qualls had a stroke in the past and suffered from severe congestive heart failure.

Sebert questioned his mental capacity and wrote that he was scheduled for admission to HealthSouth rehabilitation hospital.

Qualls went to Health South but on March 11 he checked himself out.

"He came to his office and lived in it from that Tuesday through Friday when one of the circuit judges made him leave the building," Garten wrote.

One night, a security guard found him on the floor and helped him back into his wheelchair.

That Friday, his assistant arrived at work to find him in pajamas.

"She brought him some food and his niece also brought him some food," Garten wrote. "Societal order rests upon the public's respect and obedience of court orders and decrees which are dependent upon a perception and belief that the court is independent and honorable in its conduct."

Qualls filed no brief.

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