Doddridge County Prosecutor refuses t...

Doddridge County Prosecutor refuses to respond to FOIA?

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amazed

United States

#1 Sep 14, 2012
http://www.newsandsentinel.com/page/content.d...

Article in Parkersburg Paper found on above link:

Doddridge prosecutor ignores FOIA call

September 14, 2012

By JODY MURPHY ([email protected]), Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG - The Doddridge County prosecuting attorney is declining to answer a Freedom of Information Act request from The Parkersburg News and Sentinel related to a triple homicide.

On Thursday, The News and Sentinel contacted Doddridge County Prosecutor Brooke Fitzgerald's office regarding the newspaper's request filed last week seeking a copy of the criminal complaint related to the deaths of Fred and Dixie Spencer and their daughter, P.J. Spencer, 9.

The News and Sentinel made repeated attempts to contact the office Thursday morning, before leaving a message inquiring about an answer to the FOIA. The receptionist who answered the phone confirmed the FOIA was received, as well as the message inquiring about a response.

"The prosecutor did receive your message and is in court this afternoon," the receptionist said.

She declined to say if the FOIA had been answered.

According to state code, officials are required to respond to a FOIA request within a maximum of five business days.

On Sept. 5, The News and Sentinel filed the FOIA with the prosecutor requesting a copy of the criminal complaint related to the triple homicide.

The Spencers were killed Sept. 3 in their home off W.Va. 18 north of West Union. The couple's son Joseph, a junior at Doddridge County High School, has been identified as the alleged shooter.

Deputy C.W. Modesitt of the Doddridge County Sheriff's Department told The Charleston Gazette investigators had not established a motive for the slayings. He also said police had no previous run-ins with the suspect.

Modesitt was out of the office Thursday and unavailable for comment to The News and Sentinel.

News agencies throughout the state have attempted to speak with Fitzgerald in the wake of the homicides. The prosecutor has not made herself available for comment.

Her refusal to speak with media outlets prompted The News and Sentinel to file a FOIA.

Violation of the state's FOIA act is a misdemeanor and can result in up to 10 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.

"It's a sad situation when a county prosecutor chooses to disobey the law," said Jim Smith, executive editor of The News and Sentinel.
Voter

Clarksburg, WV

#2 Sep 14, 2012
Wonder what law school Mr. Smith graduated from?
Oh brother

Clarksburg, WV

#3 Sep 15, 2012
People, you need to realize that the defendant is a juveinile. Thus for the rights of the juvenile must be upheld. Juveniles names and particulars are suposed to be closed. So they don't have to release them complaint.
amazed

United States

#4 Sep 15, 2012
Oh brother wrote:
People, you need to realize that the defendant is a juveinile. Thus for the rights of the juvenile must be upheld. Juveniles names and particulars are suposed to be closed. So they don't have to release them complaint.
Doesn't the FOIA law compell the person, or agency to RESPOND in writing to the FOIA request within a certain amount of time? Was that done?

And wouldn't a RESPONSE just to say "we decline" still a response? Was that done?

Besides, info that was requested via FOIA was very likely much more than just the info that the law says can be withheld when protecting a juvenile's identity.

Blatantly ignoring the request altogether appears to be the gist of what the paper editor is saying in the above article.
DC Resident

Glen Allen, VA

#5 Sep 18, 2012
Do you not realize that this is an on-going investigation and will be prepared to bring it to trial? Yes, a juvenile is involved and, therefore, the particulars cannot legally be released. Also, if all the facts/details are released to the press prior to trial, then the defendant will not be given the chance of a fair trial. You also do not want to taint the jury pool or give reason for a change of venue for the trial.
True Blue

West Union, WV

#6 Sep 18, 2012
The response to the FOIA could be that since it is an ongoing investigation involving a juvenile, no information can be released. Seems simple to me to answer the FOIA without releasing that which cannot be released.
Citizen

United States

#7 Sep 18, 2012
True Blue wrote:
The response to the FOIA could be that since it is an ongoing investigation involving a juvenile, no information can be released. Seems simple to me to answer the FOIA without releasing that which cannot be released.
Yes, that's the point! It wasn't a question of defending the fact that the juvenile's info was to be kept private.

But rather, it was the fact that the county prosecutor FAILED to respond to a FOIA request in a timely manner. THAT is against the law!!! Instead, we're hearing that FOIA request was blatantly ignored and not even addressed withing the mandated 5 day period!!!

All she had to have done was to respond back WITHIN 5 days saying it is not info she can release because of protecting a minor's privacy. Did she do it?

The law compells her to respond to a FOIA request in a timely manner--NOT ignore it!!! And that response can certainly be "I cannot release that info because of privacy laws protecting minors."

Ignoring the request completely was the REAL issue. Some folks just don't get it, do they? And what will be the consequences of her action? The law states that there could be fines and/or jail time for those breaking FOIA laws. lololol Not in Doddridge, it appears to be the norm for many of our elected officials to disregard the law, and ignore policies, it would seem. So no wonder it goes on with such impunity. People tolerate far too much from our elected officials. So people get what they deserve, as far as I see things.
Wow

Morgantown, WV

#8 Sep 23, 2012
Reading this forum and shaking my head. I totally agree with True Blue. Doddridge County has spoken!! the voters wanted her over someone who would actually do the job. Doddridge, YOU got her in office, so don't gripe if she totally refuses to respond to an FOIA or a parent with a child out of control, and what about the "open door policy"? yeah right! YOU HAVE HER for another 4 years unless, of course the "Law" might,(maybe? just might?) apply to her "failing to respond" or better yet blatant refusal to respond to an FOIA. My guess with her friends in high places, a slap and a warning is all that will happen and she will continue to carry on as usual. My money is on the easy way out with the III Homicide case. Shoot look at the Trials in Doddridge, ZERO until the campaign year!! Boy oh Boy Doddridge I thinks she takes you for stupid!! and everyone knows that there is no cure for stupid. Then check out the indictments, another increase just in time to campaign, to appear that the job is being done! One or two terms with ZERO indictments, but WAIT!, I forgot, "there is no crime in Doddridge County".
Doc

United States

#9 Sep 24, 2012
Fitzgerald has saved this county a bunch of money by accepting pleas in lieu of expensive trials since she's been elected. That's a matter of public record you idjits. She is well within the law regarding the FOIA.All she is required to do is respond to the requests by stating that information involves a juvenile and that juvenile is protected BY LAW. She has done just that! WOW, you obviously don't have your facts in order and let me guess, if it was your child or child family member you would want every little detail shouted out loud and dragged around the county? That's why we have laws that protect children accused or guilty of a crime! Gee Whiz will I be glad when this election season is over and you people crawl back in to your holes
lemon

Morgantown, WV

#10 Sep 24, 2012
in my opnion
let them plea bargan down
let them out
they havent learned a thing except how to not get caught again

i think some time locked up will make them look at life differently

but then going to trial is not nearly as easy for her as accually trying a case

just my opinion
Oh pleeeeeze

United States

#11 Sep 24, 2012
Doc wrote:
Fitzgerald has saved this county a bunch of money by accepting pleas in lieu of expensive trials since she's been elected. That's a matter of public record you idjits. She is well within the law regarding the FOIA.All she is required to do is respond to the requests by stating that information involves a juvenile and that juvenile is protected BY LAW. She has done just that! WOW, you obviously don't have your facts in order and let me guess, if it was your child or child family member you would want every little detail shouted out loud and dragged around the county? That's why we have laws that protect children accused or guilty of a crime! Gee Whiz will I be glad when this election season is over and you people crawl back in to your holes
Speaking of idiots ---hey "doc"-- you did not READ the previous posts people have put up. You say "all she is required to do is respond to FOIA requests by stating the info involves a juvenile." WELL DUH !!! no one disagrees with that. Well "DOC," the problem here is that SHE DID NOT RESPOND within the required 5 days. THe News Sentinel reporter is alleging that she IGNORED the FOIA completely, until they made an issue of it. Thus, they claim SHE DID NOT follow the law. Now who's the idiot? LOLOLOLOL

Please stop defending a poor performance record. Using plea bargaining 100% of the time as an excuse that is saves money is pathetic. It's just an easy way out when it appears to have been done 100% of the time. Surely even just a few of those cases were worthy of prosecution to get these criminals off the street once and for all. Any other place, a PA would be measured by how many convictions were obtained as an indication of good job performance. But, sounds like you are saying that doing nothin and just being passive, taking the quick and easy way out is always preferred. HA ! not so, but typical of this county and typical of people who defend it. Elected people on the county payroll that don't produce? What else is new?
Wow

Morgantown, WV

#12 Sep 24, 2012
Oh pleeeeeze wrote:
<quoted text>
Speaking of idiots ---hey "doc"-- you did not READ the previous posts people have put up. You say "all she is required to do is respond to FOIA requests by stating the info involves a juvenile." WELL DUH !!! no one disagrees with that. Well "DOC," the problem here is that SHE DID NOT RESPOND within the required 5 days. THe News Sentinel reporter is alleging that she IGNORED the FOIA completely, until they made an issue of it. Thus, they claim SHE DID NOT follow the law. Now who's the idiot? LOLOLOLOL
Please stop defending a poor performance record. Using plea bargaining 100% of the time as an excuse that is saves money is pathetic. It's just an easy way out when it appears to have been done 100% of the time. Surely even just a few of those cases were worthy of prosecution to get these criminals off the street once and for all. Any other place, a PA would be measured by how many convictions were obtained as an indication of good job performance. But, sounds like you are saying that doing nothin and just being passive, taking the quick and easy way out is always preferred. HA ! not so, but typical of this county and typical of people who defend it. Elected people on the county payroll that don't produce? What else is new?
In agreement with you!! Funny thing is that SHE PLEDGED TO BE "TOUGH ON CRIME" and criticized Lou Sammons for taking pleas! Dismissing a case was not something that Lou allowed at all nor did he dismiss abuse and neglect cases and leave those kids in a seriously dangerous situations. Doc here is another money saving idea, that because she cannot keep an assistant prosecutor that saves the county about 35k a year - she has gone through 3 of those! What a novel practice of law, that tells us that she is not good at office administration much less human resources. Bottom line When the numbers are down, then the grant monies available to this county also go down, the number of officers needed will go down, it is only a matter of time. Just have a talk with some of the law enforcement see what their take is on how many of their cases get prosecuted or sat on and dismissed? is that the reason for State Police having a high turnover in the last few years? Why should they arrest when the passive route of "doing nothing" is preferred. Aww but remember her family name!! that's what got her into office.. LOL the mentality of this county. standing on there is no cure for stupid
Wow

Morgantown, WV

#13 Sep 24, 2012
Question, does anyone remember around the beginning of the school year and there was a woman who was arrested for driving under the influence while she was driving her children to school?(I believe the officer calling it in could not pursue because he had his child in the cruiser?) I am not sure of all the charges brought against her but FEAR NOT they all were dismissed. Not to mention the kids are still in the same household, with grandparents as custodians.
lemon

Clarksburg, WV

#14 Sep 25, 2012
it would be so nice to see arrest reports or magistrates records published somewhere public so we can see just the extent of how much is being ''swept under the rug'' here in doddridge co

after all we are paying taxes for several deputys and state police officers'
only time i see them is in restraunts

just my opinion as a disgruntaled taxpayer
RU kidding

Glen Allen, VA

#15 Sep 25, 2012
Dear Lemon: Last time I checked state employees were paid by the 'State' not county.
lemon

Clarksburg, WV

#16 Sep 25, 2012
RU kidding wrote:
Dear Lemon: Last time I checked state employees were paid by the 'State' not county.
i pay state taxes too,
you dont?
PRAY TELL

Grafton, WV

#17 Sep 25, 2012
They are entitled to lunch too, just like everyone else.
FYI

Weston, WV

#18 Sep 25, 2012
Magistrates and Circuit Clerk could print out their docket and submitt to the paper ----
RU kidding

Glen Allen, VA

#19 Sep 26, 2012
Lemon, I do pay state taxes too. I am sorry because I misunderstood this entire topic, I thought that you were just complaining about the county and it's workers.
Double Wow

Morgantown, WV

#20 Sep 28, 2012
As always in Doddridge County who you know factors in on what your punishment is. Apparently its ok to drive intoxicated in school zones and almost run down unloading buses while your higher than a kite. If something were to happen to one of my children because of idiots like this women the last thing she would have to worry about would be the prosecutor or the police getting a hold of her because I would make sure I got a hold of her 1st. And since Im not a crooked scoundrel like the rest of them im sure you would be seeing my mug shot on the TV.
Wow wrote:
Question, does anyone remember around the beginning of the school year and there was a woman who was arrested for driving under the influence while she was driving her children to school?(I believe the officer calling it in could not pursue because he had his child in the cruiser?) I am not sure of all the charges brought against her but FEAR NOT they all were dismissed. Not to mention the kids are still in the same household, with grandparents as custodians.

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