On the court and in the court, Judge O'Briant accused of playing favorites

By The West Virginia Record | Aug 29, 2017

Anyone who ever played organized sports as a child or has watched offspring play is familiar with that scourge of athleticism: the bad ref.

He's not the dispassionate monitor of the contest he's supposed to be. He's a partisan, favoring one side over the other and skewing his calls and penalties to advantage the side he favors.

We're told there's a basketball referee in Logan who might fit this description. He's what they call a “homer,” an official who sides with the hometown team, calling fabricated fouls on the visiting squad to cancel points legitimately scored or to oust visiting star players from the game.

The guy's not fit to be a referee or an umpire or a judge, and therein lies a bigger problem, because, according to his accusers, the same tyrannical ref is also a tyrannical judge.

He seems to think he can do what he wants on the court and in the courtroom, making up some rules as he goes along.

Roundballers who've taken on Logan teams in games officiated by Eric H. O'Briant are familiar with his particular brand of refereeing. And now the Judicial Investigation Commission (JIC) has censured his roguish behavior as a Logan Circuit Court judge.

Stopping short of formal discipline, the JIC last month issued a public admonishment of Judge O’Briant for usurping the power of the Supreme Court of Appeals by authorizing an unlicensed paralegal to handle cases in magistrate court, one of five separate violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct cited.

O'Briant's troubles may have just begun, because the state Legislative Auditor has written to the commission seeking further action.

It seems that members of the newly elected Logan County Board of Education have also accused Judge O'Briant of threatening and retaliatory conduct following the board's firing of O'Briant's daughter's law firm.

It's time for this despot to retire his black robe and his striped shirt.

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Logan Circuit Court West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

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