Friday, December 03, 2004

Local Politics. McGraw isn't surrendering so easily. That's right.

McGraw sues over TV ads

Case targets spots
that led to justice's defeat

Brad McElhinny
Daily Mail staff

Thursday December 02, 2004
Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw is suing Massey Energy chief Don Blankenship and the company that owns WOWK-TV for more than $1 million, saying an advertising campaign that contributed to his election defeat was libelous.

"We will go right to the jury and we will prove this was false, they knew it was false and they willfully and maliciously published it to destroy Justice McGraw," McGraw's attorney, Richard Neely, said today. "No ifs, no ands, no buts and no weasel language."

The lawsuit filed in Wyoming Circuit Court seeks $1.14 million in lost wages that McGraw would have derived from a 12-year term on the court plus lost pension income for him and his wife.

Blankenship paid for ads that criticized McGraw's vote in a case involving a child molester. McGraw claims the ads were untrue and that they shouldn't have been aired.

His lawsuit names Blankenship and West Virginia Media Holdings, the company that owns WOWK-TV13 as well as stations in Wheeling, Clarksburg and Ghent.

The suit also names former Democratic Party Chairman George Carenbauer, whom the lawsuit contends was the organizer of the campaign against McGraw.

West Virginia Media chairman Bray Cary said there was no reason for McGraw to single out his company.

"We ran the same ads that every other television station in West Virginia ran," Cary was quoted as saying in a story on the WOWK Web site.

West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse director Bill Bissett said the libel suit is predictable, although he acknowledged he had not had an opportunity to read it.

"The voters spoke loudly during this election, and Justice McGraw lost by a significant amount," Bissett said.

"This lawsuit seems to suggest sour grapes with the outcome. These types of personal injury lawyers -- their first response seems to always be to sue someone. That's what they've done."

Blankenship and Carenbauer were not available for comment. Blankenship spent an estimated $3.5 million of his own money against McGraw.

Advertisements by the Blankenship-funded group, And for the Sake of the Kids, contended that McGraw and a majority of justices voted to reverse a circuit judge's decision that would have sent a convicted sexual offender to jail for 15 to 35 years because of parole violations that included drinking and alcohol offenses.

The alternate probation plan would have made the man a janitor in a high school. The plan wound up not being implemented.

The advertisements alleged that McGraw's vote was evidence that he is a "radical" who is "soft on crime." He was defeated Nov. 2 by Charleston lawyer Brent Benjamin.

"There was absolutely no truth to that," Neely said.

"This was a case about a man who had been victimized as a child. He was indeed someone who, over nine years before this case, had been decided, had assaulted his half brother. He was 15 years old, and the issue before the court was whether a kid who had smoked marijuana and drank liquor should be sent to Mount Olive for 35 years.

"The inference from the advertisement is absolutely wrong, and it was maliciously published with an evil, wicked intent to destroy Justice McGraw."

Contact writer Brad McElhinny at 348-4872.


Warren would have won the election if it was not for the lies and distortions of the evil, corrupted Republican party. Don Blankenship and Brent Benjamin will be punished for his crimes. Modern America will see to it.

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