Barbour judge, prosecutor sued by convict

A Philippi man, incarcerated in a McDowell County prison, alleges that Barbour County Circuit Judge Alan Moats violated his civil rights and subjected him to false imprisonment in a lawsuit filed in federal court.

Jason Kent Steerman, who is serving time on a third offense-driving under the influence conviction, filed the lawsuit in West Virginia’s Southern District of U.S. Court in Bluefield. He also names Barbour County Prosecuting Attorney Leckta Poling as a co-defendant. The lawsuit was filed Feb. 15.

Steerman alleged that Moats only gave him credit for 33 days served in jail, but none for the time he served on home confinement. He claimed Moats conspired with Poling and other court officials to wrongly convict and maliciously punish him.

Steerman is seeking punitive damages, reasonable compensation and recovery of economic damages. Steerman is scheduled to be released in April, according to the West Virginia Department of Corrections website. Steerman is representing himself in the case.

Moats said that, as a judge, he is not allowed to comment on active cases in which he is involved. Poling did not return calls to her office seeking comment.

The suit also names Allison Iapalucci, Dennis Foreman and the members of the state’s Parole Board as defendants. WVDOC Commissioner Jim Rubenstein is also listed as a defendant for his allowing the prison system to be overcrowded, for allowing the Parole Board members to use the prison system as homeless shelters and for allowing the Parole Board to use the system as a tool of manipulation in the denying of parole to the inmates of West Virginia.

No court date has been scheduled in the matter. According to officials in the Bluefield office of the U.S. District Court, the case is being reviewed by U.S. Magistrate R. Clarke Van Dervont to see if further proceedings are warranted. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge David Faber.