MARTINSBURG – A federal judge has ruled the trial in a civil suit that alleges that Sheriff Robert “Bobby” Shirley and 14 other as-yet unnamed law enforcement officers beat a suspect in custody will take place in November of next year if it is not settled before then. The 14 unnamed law enforcement officers will likely be named in the next two months.
The lawsuit, filed by convicted bank robbery Mark Daniel Haines, alleges that Shirley and the other officers committed civil rights violations, assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress when they arrested him following a high speed chase in 2010.
Shirley is also facing a federal criminal indictment stemming from the incident. He could face up to 30 years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted on both counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and altering records in a federal investigation. That trial is set to take place in January 2013.
In an order issued on Aug. 3, Chief Judge John Preston Bailey of the Northern District Court, the judge in both the civil and criminal cases, outlined a strict schedule for progression toward the jury trial, which is set for Nov. 19, 2013 in Martinsburg.
Bailey also ordered both sides to undergo mediation to seek to resolve the dispute without a trial. The mediation process must be completed in good faith by June 2, 2013. If both sides cannot agree on a settlement by that time the trial will move to the jury.
“The requirement that both parties mediate in a civil case is a normal and expected requirement,” said Harry Waddell, Haines’ attorney. “Parties have to engage in good faith to try and settle the case if they can.”
Bailey set the final date for amendments to Haines’ complaint for Nov. 30, 2012, meaning that the names of the 14 unnamed law enforcement officers will likely be released before that date.
“One of the things I am anticipating is the date of Aug. 17, 2012,” Waddell said, adding it’s on that date initial disclosures, including lists of relevant witnesses to be deposed, will be exchanged between the two sides. Once he receives this list, Waddell said, he will be able to depose witnesses and determine the identities of the other 14 officers being sued.
“Once I am able to start taking depositions and discoveries in this case, there are going to be other defendants added,” Waddell said. “Right now I have a videotape that shows what was done by some of the officers, but I don’t know who they are necessarily.”