CHARLESTON – In the last two years, records show Chad B. Cissel has had two court-appointed clients lodge ethics complaints against him alleging, like Jerry Burkhammer, his work hindered, rather than helped their case.
The most recent came on June 7 by Wilton F. Bland, an inmate at the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville. In his complaint, Bland alleged despite a pending evidentiary hearing on June 20, Cissel had yet to prepare for it.
Since Cissel was appointed to represent him on the unspecified charges, Bland alleged he "won't even accept my phone calls." The only time they had any communication, Bland said, was in Aug. 2009, when Cissel paid him a visit while he at the Mount Olive Correctional Center in Smithers.
In his complaint, Bland asked ODC to remove him as his attorney.
On June 15, Chief Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel Rachel L. Fletcher Cipoletti replied to Bland's complaint. In her latter, Cipoletti said only the presiding judge in his case, and not ODC had the power to remove Cissel, and appoint a new attorney.
However, she directed Cissel communicate with Bland within 10 days of receiving her letter. It is unclear if he did.
Two years earlier, Tiffney R. Fedele of Poland, Ohio also accused Cissel of failing to communicate with her. In her complaint, Fedele alleged Cissel communicated more with opposing counsel then he did with her.
According to her complaint, Cissel was appointed to represent Fedele in an abuse and neglect case regarding her children in Mineral County. When she would meet with Cissel in his office, Fedele said "he would not look at me nor take any notes on what I said."
At one point during the case, Fedele said she overheard Cissel talking to then- Mineral County Prosecutor Lynn Nelson "about me in a negative manner." Though she did not specify what Cissel allegedly said, she felt Cissel's comments breached confidentiality.
Nelson was elected circuit judge in 2008.
Also, Fedele alleged Cissel wasn't interested in hearing about evidence favorable to her case. Though she requested to testify in her case, Fedele said Judge Philip B. Jordan not only denied her "bring[ing] out all the information but told me I was lying after asking to show him the proof of my statements."
In a letter dated Nov. 7, 2008, Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel Renee N. Burger closed Fedele's complaint finding that her allegations against Cissel did not about to an ethics violation. Since her allegations amounted to a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel, Burger said Fedele needed to pursue such a claim in court.