Legal Ethics

Attorney's law license at issue over petition for involuntary mental exam of restaurant proprietor

A West Virginia lawyer is at trial in a legal ethics case, accused of having applied under false pretenses to have a cafe owner taken into involuntary custody for a mental health examination.

H. John Rogers was previously convicted of two related misdemeanor counts in Wetzel County Magistrate Court. Attorney ethics officials are now seeking the annulment of his law license. The state supreme court heard oral arguments in the legal ethics case on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press and the State Journal.

At issue in the case is a July 2009 incident at Barrista’s Café. A brief filed by the office of disciplinary counsel says the proprietor, Jeffrey Shade, banned Rogers from the establishment after the attorney shouted, cursed and and gestured at him and customers, saying things like “hear no evil, see no evil and pure evil,” the newspaper recounts.

Rogers then filed an application for Shade to be checked out in a mental facility, contending that he was suicidal, taking psychedelic drugs and had twice physically assaulted him.

His lawyer, George Daugherty, argues that Rogers acted with good intentions. “He used this device to get him help, to get attention for a friend he thought needed recovery.”

Rogers lost in the Democratic primary last year when he ran for election to the state supreme court. He has also previously tried to win election as governor and to the state legislature.

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