H. John Rogers speaks out after WV Supreme Court oral arguments - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

H. John Rogers defends his actions before WV Supreme Court

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A New Martinsville attorney who most recently ran for state Supreme Court appeared before the  court June 4 in a lawyer disciplinary action seeking to annul his law license.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel filed the action against H. John Rogers and asks the court to uphold the sanctions recommended by the hearing panel, which suggested the annulment of Rogers' law license, a comprehensive psychological examination before petitioning for reinstatement and that he be supervised for one year upon reinstatement.

This case stems from a July 2009 incident when Rogers entered Jeffrey Shade's coffee shop, Barrista's Café. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel said in its brief to the state Supreme Court that Rogers started to "yell, cuss and gesture at Mr. Shade and other customers."

 "Mr. Shade testified that when respondent came into his coffee shop, he yelled, ‘I showed those mother**** down at the courthouse this morning…' and then respondent pointed at Mr. Shade and said ‘and you're next on my list.'"

Shade also testified, the brief continued, that Rogers came back into the café later that day and started yelling and gesturing at people, saying things like, "hear no evil, see no evil and pure evil."

After this alleged exchange, Shade said he told Rogers to leave and never come back.

The following day, Rogers filed an application for involuntary custody for mental health examination, saying Shade was suicidal, taking psychedelic drugs and that he physically assaulted him twice without provocation.

Shade was then detained and taken to the Hillcrest Behavioral Health Center at Ohio Valley Medical Center in Wheeling, where the drug screen came up negative.

In an interview with The State Journal after oral arguments, Rogers maintained Shade attacked him and he filed the mental hygiene complaint to shock him into recovery.

"If I was seeking vengeance, I would not have done something chickens*** about getting a mental hygiene warrant. I would have knocked out a couple of windows," Rogers said, citing his brief. "The thing they can't prove is motivation

"From my point of view, I go see a friend and he physically attacks me," he added. "He's a big guy, nails me right there, wrestles me down. I figured he was having acid flashbacks from hallucinogens. I go back and see him again and he does the same damn thing."

Rogers additionally stated that he has two graduate degrees in theology and he doesn't like people questioning his morals.

"The hard question is when does my will conflict with God's will in a situation. That's the thing I have to worry about," he said.

In January 2010, a grand jury issued a two-count indictment charging Rogers with false swearing and malicious application to declare a person mentally ill or inebriate.

A January 2012 order mandated Rogers to be sentenced to 90 days in the custody of authorities of Northern Regional Jail and ordered him to pay a $150 fine. This jail sentence was suspended, the brief states.

For his second charge, Rogers also was sentenced to 90 days with 80 days suspended and he was again fined $150. He also was placed on 24 months of unsupervised probation.

The Wetzel County Circuit Court later granted Rogers' petition for a stay of execution pending appeal of a sentence.

Rogers appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court; however, the court found there was not good cause to extend the period for perfecting the appeal. The court dismissed the appeal.

Rogers pleaded nolo contendere — which means "I will not contest it" — to both counts in Wetzel County Magistrate Court. In this type of plea, a person neither admits nor disputes guilt.

Rogers said the reason he entered the nolo plea is because he wanted "to get it over with."

He additionally took issue with his hearing panel, saying no one represented his demographic and said he was upset because Justices Robin Davis and Allen Loughry did not recuse themselves.

"One person I ran against and one person I campaigned publicly against and spent money against and they wouldn't disqualify themselves," he said, noting that only Justice Brent Benjamin was disqualified.

He said if Loughry or Davis casts the deciding vote, one of his options would be to take the case through federal court.

Representing the disciplinary counsel, Andrea Hinerman said Rogers' nolo contendere plea is deemed a conviction under the rules of lawyer disciplinary procedure and even though the charges were misdemeanors, they would be enough to annul his license.

She said these charges reflect on Rogers' honesty.

George Daugherty, representing Rogers, said Rogers filed the mental health warrant against his friend to shock him into recovery.

"He used this device to get him help, to get attention for a friend he thought needed recovery," Daugherty said, later adding that Rogers did not do it out of malice.

Sitting by special assignment, Senior Status Justice Thomas McHugh asked Daugherty about the panel's finding that Rogers' actions were out of spite. 

Daugherty said the hearing panel misunderstood how much courage it takes to get someone checked out.

"The fact that this didn't get his attention this time doesn't mean it won't."

Hinerman countered that Rogers' actions were not from an intervention and she again stressed that his nolo plea would be sufficient enough to impose penalties.

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