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Judge recuses self from appeal hearing in case

August 29, 2012
By John Wickline - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

Upshur County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Keadle has decided to recuse himself from hearing the appeal of the county commission's decision in the sheriff's race.

David Taylor, who was defeated in his bid to become the next Upshur County Sheriff in the May Republican primary, filed an appeal of the county commission's July decision that declared that Mike Kelley should have been considered an eligible candidate to run for the office, a decision that flew in the face of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel ruling that Kelley's candidacy for the position was in direct violation of the Hatch Act because of his duties of overseeing federally funded projects and also receiving a supplement to his salary as chief deputy from federal grants.

"I have the utmost respect for Judge Keadle," Taylor said. "Even if he had elected to hear the case, I would have had no reservations. Judge Keadle has always been above reproach. He's one of the most fair judges I have ever seen."

The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees, along with state and local employees who are paid with federal funds or who oversee federally funded projects from seeking office in a partisan election.

Kelley, who won the Republican primary over Taylor and another challenger, decided to withdraw from the November election rather than resign from his job with the sheriff's department. Following the state Elections Commission approving the withdrawal, the Upshur County Republican Executive Committee decided to appoint long-time law enforcement veteran Dave Coffman as the party's nominee, even though Coffman just days prior had filed paperwork to seek the office as an independent candidate.

Coffman will face former sheriff Sherman Baxa in the fall, as Baxa also filed to run as an independent candidate. There was no Democratic challenger for the sheriff's post in the primary election.

The West Virginia Supreme Court will be assigning a new judge to hear the matter.

No date for a hearing has been scheduled.

Contact John Wickline by email at



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