HUNTINGTON – A man who sued Huntington policemen, a federal agent and his former lawyer over his unjust incarceration, has dropped his claims against everyone but the lawyer.
On John David Mooney's motion, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin on Aug. 25 dismissed ATF agent Todd Willard and Huntington police officers Jeff Sexton, Scott Hudson and Chris Jackson.
Mooney will continue to pursue a legal malpractice claim against lawyer Michael Frazier and the firm of Frazier and Oxley.
Mooney spent five years in federal prison on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated his conviction this year, finding that Frazier should have allowed him to plead that circumstances justified his actions.
The appeals court found that Frazier's representation "fell below an objective standard of reasonableness."
Mooney's parents died while he served time, and he missed both funerals.
In 2002, he shared a home with his former wife. One day as he watched television, she put a pistol to his head.
He grabbed the gun and decided to take it to his employer, eight blocks away. She called police, who arrested him.
Mooney pleaded guilty.
According to his current lawyers, Nicholas Preservati and Joseph Jenkins of Charleston, Frazier had advised him that there was no defense to the charge.
At a sentencing hearing, Mooney asked U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers to withdraw the plea, but Frazier told Mooney he couldn't withdraw it.
Chambers sentenced Mooney to 15 years in prison.
After Mooney gained his freedom, Preservati and Jenkins filed suit this April against Frazier, the policemen and agent Willard.
Mooney sought compensatory and punitive damages for economic loss, physical injury and mental anguish.
On July 30, lawyer Michael Farrell moved to dismiss the Huntington policemen.
Farrell wrote that the police did nothing to cause Frazier's failure to assert justification as a defense.
On Aug. 4, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Curry of Charleston advanced the same argument in moving to dismiss Willard.
The argument succeeded, for on Aug. 21 Mooney moved to dismiss Willard, Sexton, Hudson and Jackson.