On Friday, September 8, 2023, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals issued an order finding attorney Keith L. Wheaton in contempt of court for non-compliance with a previous court order.
The case is entitled “In the Matter of Keith L. Wheaton,” with case no. 23-187.
According to the order, Wheaton was required to comply with Rule 3.28 of the Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Procedure, which mandates that a lawyer who has been suspended must file audits with the Office of Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel (ODC) within 20 days of the order. However, Wheaton failed to do so, and on June 8, 2023, the Court issued a rule to show cause in contempt for his failure to comply with Rule 3.28.
In response, Wheaton filed a “motion for extension of time to file audits” on July 31, 2023, requesting an additional 90 days to file the required audits without the need to file a petition for reinstatement. The ODC filed a response to the motion on August 9, 2023.
On August 31, 2023, Wheaton filed a motion to file Rule 3.28 information under seal out of time. The information did not include all the requirements of Rule 3.28. Finally, on September 4, 2023, Wheaton filed a motion for reinstatement to the bar, requesting automatic reinstatement of his license to practice law.
The Court found that Wheaton did not appear before the Court on September 6, 2023, as directed, and that he had failed to comply with Rule 3.28 of the Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Procedure. The Court also found that Wheaton’s “motion for extension of time to file audits” was, in effect, a request to extend the time period for automatic reinstatement and that his “motion to file Rule 3.28 information under seal out of time” was granted as to the information filed, but the information filed was insufficient as to Rule 3.28.
As a result, the Court ordered that Wheaton be held in contempt of Court for his failure to comply with the Court’s May 11, 2023, Contempt and Suspension Order. The Court also ordered that Wheaton’s license to practice law in the State of West Virginia remains suspended and that he will purge himself of the contempt once he has complied with all orders of the Court, including the Court’s June 14, 2021, mandate finalizing the Court’s decision in In re Petition for Reinstatement of Keith L. Wheaton, 245 W.Va. 199, 858 S.E.2d 662 (2021), the May 11, 2023, Contempt and Suspension order entered in this matter, and this order.
The Court further ordered that if Wheaton desires reinstatement of his license to practice law in the State of West Virginia, he must petition for reinstatement in accordance with Rule 3.32 of the Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Procedure. The order constitutes final disposition and the matter was removed from the docket of the Court. The Clerk of Court was directed to serve a copy of the order on Wheaton, the ODC, and the West Virginia State Bar.
According to avvo.com, Mr. Wheaton is an attorney in Martinsburg, West Virginia. He acquired his law license in West Virginia in 1995.
A copy of the original filing can be found here.