Hall disciplined for inaction in previous court-appointed case

By Lawrence Smith | Dec 22, 2010

CHARLESTON – Records show ethics complaints were filed against Dwight R. Hall in at least three other court-appointed cases with disciplinary action taken in one of them.

On March, 8, 2002, the Lawyer Disciplinary Board, the prosecutorial arm of the state Bar admonished Hall for not acting timely in helping an inmate then at the Huttonsville Correctional Center file a writ of habeas corpus. Records show Hall was appointed in June 2001 by Randolph Circuit Judge John Henning to help Michael Williams file one.

In his complaint filed September 4, 2001, Williams said Hall had "not communicated with [me] or worked on [my] case." His complaint does not specify why he was incarcerated.

According to the complaint, Henning granted Williams an extension until Oct. 1 to file his writ. However, two days before the deadline, Hall withdrew as his attorney citing the pending ethics complaint as a conflict of interest.

Nevertheless, the Board concluded Hall had more than enough time to begin work on Williams' petition, and violated Rule 1.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct – requiring that a lawyer act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client – because he didn't.

Three years following his admonishment, the first of two court-appointed clients would accuse Hall of coming to court intoxicated.

In November 2005, Jack Hinchman filed his complaint against Hall alleging he showed up late for his September 2004 preliminary hearing in Tucker Magistrate Court "purportedly smell[ing] of alcohol." At time, Hinchman was facing two counts of felony fraudulent schemes.

In June 2005, Hinchman would later plead guilty to one charge of fraudulent schemes in exchange for dismissal of the other charge, and that his sentence run concurrently with a similar conviction in Pocahontas County. Nevertheless, Hinchman also accused Hall of incompetent representation, failing to communicate with him and failing to provide him a copy of his file following conclusion of the case.

Nine months after Hinchman's complaint, William J. Clark, then an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution-Gilmer in Glenville filed his against Hall. In it, Clark alleged Hall "provided incompetent representation, neglected [his] case, failed to keep him appropriately informed about the status...and was drunk on many occasions" while facing charges on unspecified crimes in U.S. District Court.

In response to Hinchman's allegations, Hall responded on Nov. 28, 2005, stating emphatically "I can assure you that I have never been drinking before any hearing in any Court!" Also, he said traffic between his law office in Elkins and Parsons caused him to be late for the preliminary hearing.

In disputing the allegation leveled by Clark, Hall provided affidavits by the U.S. Attorneys handling the case who stated during the numerous occasions they dealt with Hall in the case, they "never smelled alcohol on him." Also, he said Clark's claims of incompetent representation, and lack of communication were refuted by him helping Clark reach a favor plea agreement.

Records show both complaints were subsequently dismissed for lack of evidence Hall committed a Rules violation.

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