CHARLESTON – A Charleston lawyer's claim that he was severely beaten by two West Virginia State Police troopers following his arrest for drunken driving is being investigated by a federal grand jury.
Following the June 2007 incident, Roger Wolfe, who heads the Jackson Kelly law firm's labor and employment section, sued the troopers involved and a physician who attended to him at Thomas Memorial Hospital.
The case was moved to federal court in 2008 from Kanawha Circuit Court.
But recent filings in the case show that the matter has also been the subject of a federal grand jury investigation since before Wolfe filed his lawsuits.
Kristy L. Layne, one of the troopers at the South Charleston detachment the night Wolfe was arrested, on March 11 asked to stay her deposition pending any findings by the grand jury.
Layne in the motion says she was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury and to also give a deposition in the civil case would absolve her of her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
The motion was granted by U.S. Magistrate Mary Stanley on March 11, one day before Layne was scheduled to make a deposition in the case.
The parties also moved to stay the depositions of Trooper Jason S. Crane and State Police Sgt. J.K. Rapp for the same reasons argued by Layne. Crane's deposition was scheduled for March 30 and Rapp's for April 14.
Crane is being accused by Wolfe as being one of the troopers that allegedly beat him while he was handcuffed. Rapp is being accused of attempting to cover-up the incident by questioning Wolfe at the emergency room afterward. Trooper Paul Green is also accused of taking part in the alleged beating.
Layne is accused of instigating the beating by making hay out of Wolfe's alleged smiling in the booking room. The defendants claim that Wolfe was acting belligerent toward the female officer and that he was injured because he came at one of the officers.
Wolfe is contesting the stays on the depositions, saying the defendants have already waived their Fifth Amendment rights by answering interrogatories under oath regarding the events surrounding the alleged beating; that none has been indicted; and that Wolfe's right to a speedy trial trumps any "theoretical interests" the officers have in future criminal actions against them.
Wolfe had also requested documents relating to any formal or informal complaints or internal investigations relating to Green, Lane, Rapp and Crane and their personnel files. Wolfe also wants all documents relating to allegations of abuse by all state troopers.
The State Police resisted these requests, but Stanley on April 2 ordered the defendants to turn over the documents within two weeks.
Federal court case numbers: 2:08-cv-01023 and 2:08-cv-01114