Sims Takes Seat on Supreme Court

WHEELING – Ohio County Circuit Judge David Sims takes a seat on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals today to hear oral arguments in an appeal involving the case of a Beckley lawyer accused of drug-related offenses.

Sims, who sits on the high court for the first time since taking office in June 2012, was given the temporary appointment by Chief Justice Brent Benjamin after Justices Robin Jean Davis and Margaret L. Workman recused themselves from hearing the appeal.

“It should be interesting,” Sims said. “It’s my first time. I am looking forward to it.”

He said circuit judges from around the state are called upon to sit on the court when incumbent justices are unable to do so.

Today’s case involves an appeal of Raleigh County Circuit Judge Robert Burnside’s pre-trial ruling to grant a defense attorney’s motion to suppress audio and video recordings allegedly vital to the prosecution case against Attorney Richard Eichert Hardison Jr., 44, who was indicted by a grand jury in September 2012 on charges of delivering cocaine and conspiracy.

According to the court order, the state placed a recording device on a confidential informant, who recorded a conversation with Hardison inside his law office. The informant allegedly is a client of Hardison.

Defense counsel Timothy J. LaFon made a motion that the recording evidence be suppressed because of a section of West Virginia code stating audio and visual recording devices are prohibited from being used at the office of someone who is licensed to practice law in the state.

The code states “no device designed to intercept wire, oral or electronic communications shall be placed or installed in such a manner as to intercept wire, oral or electronic communications emanating from the place of employment of any attorney at law, licensed to practice law in this state.”

Sims said the justices will review today’s proceedings and convene at a later date to decide the outcome.