Making the crime fit the punishment

By The West Virginia Record | Nov 6, 2009

Joseph Stalin's infamous KGB chief, Lavrenti Beria, had a unique approach to justice. Instead of investigating a crime to find the culprit, he would arrest the "culprit" first and create a crime to pin on him.

"Show me the man," he boasted, "and I will find the crime." Sad to say, things aren't much different in the "People's Republic of West Virginia."

In a Beria-like manner, Darrell McGraw uses his power as the state's attorney general to target successful businesses and create "offenses" to cudgel them into submission through lawsuits brought by him and his attorney friends who reap political and monetary benefits at the expense of our citizens and the state's economy.

McGraw's latest victims are drugstore chains such as Rite-Aid. The alleged offense is overcharging for generic drugs.

McGraw's cudgel is a class action suit against the "culprits," filed in plaintiff-friendly Boone County. But the intended victims got the case removed to federal court and McGraw wants it back in Boone.

"As originally filed, the state sought to recover for alleged overpayments by any and all in West Virginia who paid for generic prescription drugs," Rite Aid's attorney noted in his response to McGraw's motion to remand. "After Rite Aid removed the case to this court on federal question grounds, the state shifted gears and purportedly excised from its claim any purchases made through Medicare or Medicaid."

In other words, McGraw made a mistake when he manufactured this particular lawsuit. Now he wants to redefine it and have the case returned to a venue where state-friendly justice is more likely to prevail.

Meanwhile, World Freedom Day looms. Nov. 9 is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the past two decades, statues of Stalin have been toppled all across the globe and the celebration of World Freedom Day has grown as new nations throw off the shackles of their slave masters.

Maybe, one year soon, we can celebrate it in West Virginia, too.

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