Attorney says AG's office shouldn’t be involved in criminal proceedings

By Kyla Asbury | May 7, 2018

CHARLESTON – A Charleston attorney has said that Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office should not be involved in a criminal case on a county level, but that his office is denying a Boone County inmate his own inmate records, despite a signed release and order from Circuit Judge William Thompson.

Inmate Lateef Keaton has been incarcerated for four years—two of which he was held at Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital after being declared incompetent due to an Special Response Team cell extraction.

Travis Griffith of Griffith Law Center is co-counsel for Keaton’s criminal proceedings. Lead counsel is Joseph Spano of Pritt and Spano.

Griffith said they have been attempting to get Keaton’s medical and incarceration records for months, despite the court order to provide the documents.

“We eventually received  the medical records, but still haven’t received the inmate records,” Griffith said.

Griffith said they were told they needed a protective order due to the fact that the inmate records might have information that would lead other inmates to escape, but were later told they wouldn’t be receiving any records that could possibly lead to an inmate escaping.

“I think this statute about escape is being overused,” Griffith said.

Griffith said Morrisey’s office is in violation of a previous Supreme Court order from 2014.

“Why is the Attorney General’s Office directly involved in this? I just don’t get it,” Griffith said. “Whatever happened at South Central must’ve been so bad they don’t want it made known.”

The SRT unit was also involved in other incidents with excessive force and brutality regarding cell extraction and flash bangs. The unit was eventually disbanded.

“The Office of the Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is desperately trying to hide what equals to police brutality amongst the employees of the Regional Jail System,” a press release by Griffith Law states.

In 2014, the Supreme Court declared that the Attorney General’s Common Law authority to prosecute criminal cases was abolished by the West Virginia Constitution and state statute.

“Nevertheless, Morrisey’s office has now chosen to intervene in a county criminal action and deny records which the court has ordered produced,” the press release from Griffith Law states.

A motion for contempt has been filed in Boone County, along with a motion to dismiss the charges against Keaton for failure to comply with a valid court order.

Before his arrest, Keaton would train police officers in martial arts.

Keaton’s criminal case has still not been tried or dismissed, nor has there been a plea agreement negotiated.

The Attorney General’s Office and the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety both declined to comment on the matter.

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Organizations in this Story

Griffith Law Center Pritt & Spano PLLC Virginia Attorney General's Office West Virginia Regional Jail & Correctional Facility Authority

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