West Virginia Record

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Supreme Court annuls former ACLU-WV director's law license

Attorneys & Judges

By Kyla Asbury | Sep 20, 2019

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has ordered the annulment of the law license of former ACLU-WV director Jamie Lynn Crofts after it suspended her law license in July.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals entered the order in Crofts' case on Sept. 5. The decision was a 5-0 decision to annul her law license in the state.

The Hearing Panel Subcommittee of the Lawyer Disciplinary Board presented a recommendation to the court on July 12, recommending Crofts' license be annulled and that she be required to pay restitution to a former client in the amount of $44.54 for the mileage expended trying to retrieve her settlement proceeds, fair interests on the settlement proceeds and $90 for the lost wages for the disciplinary hearing.

Anthony Majestro

The subcommittee also recommended Crofts produce a medical opinion from an independent medical examiner indicating that she is fit to engage in the practice of law prior to filing a petition for reinstatement.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed a consent to the recommendations in August, according to the Supreme Court's order.

Crofts did not file a consent or objection to the recommendations.

"Upon consideration, the Court is of the opinion to and does hereby concur with and does hereby approve the recommended disposition of the Hearing Panel Subcommittee of the Lawyer Disciplinary Board," the order states.

The case against Crofts stems from a lawsuit she filed on behalf of ACLU-WV for Kelsey Legg, a then-inmate at South Central Regional Jail during the 2014 water crisis. Legg and other inmates claimed they weren't given enough water to drink or bathe during the crisis and the inmates who sought treatment were punished.

The ACLU argued that the state’s actions denied basic human needs, inflicted unnecessary and wanton pain and suffering and put complainants at substantial risk of physical injury, illness and premature death, which violated their rights under the Eighth and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and Article III, Section 5 of the West Virginia Constitution.

“Clean and safe water for drinking and bathing is a basic human need, and people who were incarcerated did not have the ability to go to the store and purchase bottled water like everyone else,” ACLU cooperating attorney Anthony Majestro said at the time of the incident. “The state has a constitutional obligation to care for people in its custody.”

When Legg was released from prison, she sought to receive her settlement money from Crofts and visited the office multiple times. When she failed to receive the settlement, she filed a complaint with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

In July, the Supreme Court suspended Crofts' law license along with 27 other attorneys for failing to comply with the state's continuing legal education requirements.

The Supreme Court found that Crofts and the other attorneys, in that case, failed to provide proof of compliance with the applicable mandatory continuing legal education requirements despite having received numerous notices from the West Virginia Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Commission and the Supreme Court, and despite having ample opportunity to comply with the requirements.

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Case number: 18-0888

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