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Humphrey v. West Virginia Division of Corrections

Humphrey v. West Virginia Division of Corrections

Case No. 
13-0765
Opinion Date: 
5/29/2014
Opinion Author: 
Memorandum Opinion
Decision 
Affirmed
Vote: 
Unanimous
Facts 

Jeremy Dale Humphrey was employed as a corrections officer at the Mt. Olive Correctional Complex.  Humphrey was involved in an off duty incident in which he, along with others, pepper sprayed four individuals while riding a moving car.  As a result, Humphrey was charged with battery.  The magistrate ordered Humphrey to participate in a pretrial diversion program and then dismissed the charges at the state’s request.

In the meantime, Humphrey was terminated from his employment as a corrections officer.  Humphrey challenged the termination through a grievance proceeding.  Humphrey also filed petition for expungement of his criminal record pursuant to W.Va. Code 61-11-25.  In his petition, Humphrey complied with this code provision by alleging that there were no other “current charges or proceedings.”  The petition was granted, and Humphrey presented the Division of Corrections (“DOC”) with a copy of his expungement order.

DOC then moved to intervene in the expungement proceedings.  The court held a hearing on the petition and court concluded that Humphrey had failed to disclose the grievance proceeding.  For this reason, the expungement order was set aside.  Humphrey appealed, claiming that an administrative proceeding was not the kind of “proceeding” required to be disclosed pursuant to W.Va. Code 61-11-25.

 

Issue 

Under W.Va. Code 61-11-25, expungement of a criminal record may be granted if the trial court finds “that there are no current charges or proceedings pending relating to the matter for which expungement is sought.”  The issue here is whether “proceeding” includes an administrative grievance proceeding.

Analysis 

Even though this case was on the Rule 20 docket, the Supreme Court did not issue an opinion with a new syllabus point addressing the issue presented.  Instead, the court issued a memorandum opinion.  Under App. R. 21(e), memorandum opinions are citable but they have less value as precedent than published opinions.

The court rejected Humphrey’s argument out of hand.  Because W.Va. Code 61-11-25 does not specify what kinds of “proceedings” are within its scope, the court gave the word its usual, ordinary meaning.  Thus, anyone applying for expungement of a criminal record must not only disclose any related criminal proceedings, but also any related civil or administrative proceedings.  The fact that the grievance proceeding was still pending meant that Humphrey was ineligible for expungement.

Commentary 

Because the court disposed of this case by memorandum opinion, it will likely have little or no impact.

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