Oversight Looms as TN Man Sues Buchanan County's State Judicial Officials in Federal Court
Written by: Sam Orlando
FISHERSVILLE, VIRGINIA - A lawsuit recently filed by Mathew R. Dugger, a Johnson City, TN resident, has placed the spotlight on the judicial processes in Buchanan County, Virginia. The plaintiff alleges that his constitutional rights were violated multiple times due to the unlawful issuance of an Ex-Parte Emergency Protective Order (EPO) and subsequent decisions related to the custody of his daughter.
According to the lawsuit:
On January 9, 2023, Magistrate Eddie Stiltner allegedly issued an EPO in favor of the plaintiff's daughter's mother. The order, according to the complaint, exceeded the time duration legally permitted by VA Code 16.1-253.4. The plaintiff claims that this not only violated his right to Due Process under the 14th Amendment but also his 6th Amendment right to confront his accuser.
The subsequent day, Deputy Court Clerk Jennifer Mays is accused of refusing the plaintiff the ability to file a motion to dissolve the EPO, allegedly violating several of his constitutional rights.
The lawsuit also highlights a concerning timeline where the mandated expiration of the EPO was ignored, leading to subsequent events, including the removal of his daughter by Buchanan County Department of Social Services (DSS) from her mother's home due to alleged environmental abuse.
During a preliminary hearing on January 18th, Chief Judge Laura O'Quinn reportedly based her decision to retain the child in foster care on the still-active EPO, citing local court rules or policies for her decision-making.
Finally, after multiple hearings and a prolonged legal battle, full legal custody of the child was eventually restored to the plaintiff.
The lawsuit paints a distressing picture of potential lapses in the legal and judicial processes in Buchanan County. It raises essential questions about the adherence to state code regarding EPOs and highlights the cascading effects of potential judicial missteps on individuals' lives.
Given the serious nature of the allegations, this case could serve as a bellwether for examining the processes and decisions taken within the county's legal system.
Breaking Through News reached out to the Buchanan County Courts for comment but received no immediate response.
This story is developing, and further updates will be provided as more information becomes available.