Hearing set on Clifford's role in sniper-related suit

By Kyla Asbury | Jul 21, 2011


CHARLESTON – A hearing has been set in order to determine if former Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Clifford will continue as the attorney in a civil suit involving a woman related to the 2003 sniper shootings in Kanawha County.

Clifford is the attorney for Sandra Shaffer in her lawsuit against Kanawha County, the City of Charleston and members of the county's sheriff's department, as well as other county officials, she claims damaged her property in Sissonville while searching for evidence related to the sniper shootings.

County officials believe Clifford should not be involved in the lawsuit, as he was involved with the sniper investigation when he was a county prosecutor.

Johnnie Brown, an attorney representing the county, and Mike Mullins, who represents the city, have both filed motions to remove Clifford from the case, as well as for summary judgment in the matter.

Kanawha Circuit Judge James C. Stucky heard from attorneys involved on July 20. A hearing was scheduled for Aug. 24 at 1:30 p.m. to hear arguments on the motions to have Clifford removed and for summary judgment.

Clifford and local attorney Ed ReBrook are representing Shaffer.

In her lawsuit, Shaffer claims city and county officials destroyed her home and her property while they were looking for evidence.

Brown sees Clifford's involvement in the civil suit as a conflict of interest, as he was the prosecuting attorney during the initial investigation into the sniper shootings in 2003. But, Clifford does not agree.

State rules maintain that an attorney cannot represent both sides in a case, but Clifford is claiming that because this is a civil lawsuit that deals with property damage and not the actual sniper case, it is not a conflict of interest.

Clifford said if he is removed from the case, ReBrook will continue with it.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said the matter was now in the judge's hands for him to decide on.

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