Mineral County attorney
has been cited for his alleged
repeated failure to
communicate with clients
and the resulting ethics

From Staff /Wire Reports
Mineral County attorney
has been cited for his alleged
repeated failure to
communicate with clients
and the resulting ethics
The Lawyer Disciplinary
Board on Oct. 31 fi led
a seven-count statement
of charges against Chad B.
Cissel, who practiced law
in Keyser.
In the statement, the
Board - the prosecutorial
arm of the state Supreme
Court - said Cissel, 37 and
a sole-practitioner lawyer
in Keyser, kept four clients
in the dark about their cases,
according to a report
Thursday in The West Virginia
Legal Journal.
Those cases included a
Mineral County man accused
of robbing a bank
in Fort Ashby, and another
county man accused of
murder in the death of an
infant girl.
The statement accuses
Cissel of violating Rules
of Professional Conduct
dealing with communication
and failing to respond
to a disciplinary inquiry.
An evidentiary hearing on
the statement has yet to be
Cissel was unavailable
for comment Sunday. A
phone call placed to his
listed number was instead
answered by a recording
machine for another local
According to its website,
Cissel was admitted
to the state Bar on Sept.
26, 2000. Currently, he is
administratively suspended
from practicing law as
a result of his failure to either
pay his annual Bar
dues or disclose if he has
malpractice insurance.
A statement of charges
acts like an indictment for
disciplinary purposes.
The statement accuses
Cissel of neglectingCharles E. Bruff ey's and
Joseph S. Bennett's cases
at the trial level in Mineral
County, the Legal Journal
report stated.
According to the statement,
Cissel was appointed
in October 2010 to represent
Bruff ey on robbery
charges and Bennett on an
unspecifi ed date on charges
of child neglect resulting
in death and fi rst-degree
In his complaint, Bruff ey
alleged because Cissel did
not respond to his letters
or telephone calls, he was
denied both a preliminary
hearing and a bond reduction
hearing. Following
his indictment on Jan.
11, 2011, Bruff ey asked for,
and received, new counsel.
According to the statement,
he lodged his ethics
complaint the day before.
In response to it after
being subpoenaed, Cissel
said, unless previously
scheduled, he does not accept
collect calls from inmates,
and, prior to being
relieved as counsel, he
"believed that he made attempts
to get Mr. Bruff ey a
bond reduction."
Bruff ey was convicted
in September 2011 for the
Dec. 23, 2009, robbery of
the Fort Ashby branch of
M&T Bank. Currently, he
is incarcerated at the Huttonsville
Correctional Center
in Randolph County.
When also asked about
his actions in Bennett's
case, Cissel said, as a result
of Bennett's letter to
the circuit court, he was
relieved as counsel the day
trial was to begin. Also,
he claimed he hadn't received
a copy of Bennett's
Despite pledging to fi le
a response, he never did,
it is alleged. However, according
to the statement,
he did sign for the certifi ed
letter also dated Feb. 10 on
Bennett's complaint, the
report in the Legal Journal
Bennett was indicted
during the January 2011
term of the Mineral County
grand jury for the July
2010 death of Alexis
May Harbaugh, the infant
daughter of his girlfriend.
After agreeing to plead
guilty to a charge of child
neglect resulting in death
after prosecutors off ered
to drop the fi rst-degree
murder charge for which
he was indicted, Judge
Lynn Nelson in March sentenced
Bennett to a term
of 3-15 years in prison.
Currently, he is incarcerated
at the St. Mary's Correctional
Center in Pleasants
One of the other cases
against Cissel involves a
West Virginia man he represented,
who was charged
with violating a protective
order in Tucker County, according
to the Legal Journal
In that case the client accused
Cissel of failing to
keep him updated on the
status of his appeal to the
State Supreme Court. The
client also raised constitutional
and confl ict-of-interest
Despite denying he failed
to keep the client advised
of the status of his appeal,
the statement maintains
Cissel twice ignored requests
in May by the Offi ce
of Disciplinary Counsel,
the arm of the Court that
investigates attorney misconduct,
for copies of any
correspondence regarding
the appeal.
Another client alleged
that Cissel, for 2 ½
years, did not respond to
his repeated correspondence
regarding a postconviction
habeas corpus
According to the statement,
the client in 2005
asked the WVU Innocence
Project to examine
his case. As a result,
he maintained "third year
law students have worked
on his case and uncovered
evidence to show he was
Only after ODC subpoenaed
him did Cissel
respond to his client's
complaint, it is alleged. According
to the statement,
Cissel said he was awaiting
the outcome of a hearing
on DNA evidence before
fi ling the habeas petition.
When reminded he was
instructed by the circuit
court on June 9, 2011, to
write to his client within
30 days to determine what
action should be taken,
Cissel said he would contact
the client, respond to
his complaint and update
ODC on the progress of the
habeas petition.
According to the statement,
he never did.
Though he provided ODC
a new address, a certifi ed
letter dated Feb. 10 sent to
him there was returned.