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Jackson, Krouse removed from county commission

Three-judge panel rejects the commissioners’ protest absences from meetings, stating “attendance is a duty” for public officials to fulfill their elected duties

By Erik Anderson, Spirit of Jefferson

JEFFERSON COUNTY, W.Va. — Tricia Jackson and Jennifer Krouse were removed from their elected seats from the Jefferson County Commission today by order of a specially convened panel of three West Virginia circuit court judges. 

Three judges unanimously ruled that Jackson and Krouse willfully neglected the duties of their publicly elected offices for boycotting seven county commission meetings from Sept. 21 through Nov. 16 to protest the appointment process of a new commissioner. 

The 47-page decision was issued jointly by Joseph K. Reeder, judge of the 29th Judicial Circuit Court (Putnam County); Perri Jo DeChristopher, chief judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court (Monongalia County); and Jason Wharton, chief judge of the 4th Judicial Circuit. 

The judges determined “that the allegations of the Removal Petition of either official misconduct and/or neglect of duty have been proven by clear and convincing evidence and are sufficient to warrant the removal of the Respondent Commissioners from office.” 

The removal order took effect immediately.

The judges ordered Jackson and Krouse to turn over all their commission property, records, papers, passwords and login credentials for email accounts they used for county commission business. 

The court decision landed exactly five weeks after a two-day hearing held at the Jefferson County Courthouse in which Jefferson County Prosecutor Matt Harvey petitioned to have Jackson and Krouse removed from their public offices for neglecting their public duties. 

By coordinating their absences, Jackson and Krouse denied the then four-member commission a quorum necessary for conducting county business, including appointing a new commissioner to the seat vacated last June. Due to rules and political dynamics of the governing the appointment process, if Krouse and Jackson had granted quorum with their presence, their preferred candidate was all but certain to lose the open seat.

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