CHARLESTON - On Nov. 21, a memorandum decision was handed down by the West Virginia Supreme Court in the matter of Case No. 11-1206; Lonnie Hannah, Sheriff of Mingo County, West Virginia, Petitioner vs. Max Jeremy Mounts, Respondent.
The decision rendered stated that Mounts, a deputy sheriff, would serve in his original position until the Civil Service Commission determined whether his resignation was accepted before it was rescinded.
Mounts allegedly resigned from his position as a deputy sheriff in November 2010. However, the next day, he claims to have visited Mingo County Sheriff Lonnie Hannah’s house, withdrawing that resignation, according to the information provided by court documents.
Court documents stated that Hannah told him to come in Monday to talk more about his decision, but Mounts said that when he went to the sheriff’s office, Hannah reportedly told him he already had accepted the resignation and that he was no longer employed as a deputy.
Mounts filed a motion for reinstatement before the Civil Service Commission but the commission ruled that the resignation became effective the day he resigned, agreeing with Sheriff Hannah. The commission did not rule to reinstate Mounts, but said his name would be placed at the top of the roster for those applying for the position in the future.
Following the ruling, the Mingo County Circuit Court found the record was unclear whether his resignation was accepted before it was rescinded. The circuit court said there were only two options available to the commission and that was to either reinstate or not reinstate Mounts, the ruling to have him placed on the potential hire list was not acceptable.
In its Nov. 21 memorandum decision, the state Supreme Court referenced a similar case, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection vs. Falquero, which ruled a public employee could rescind a resignation before an effective date as long as the employer has not yet accepted it.
In addition, justices said the acceptance of a resignation occurs when an employer “clearly indicates acceptance through communication with the employee, or acts in good faith reliance on the tender,” which counsel for the respondent, C. Christopher Younger, claims did not occur in this case. The memorandum decision stated that it is the sole responsibility of the Civil Service Commission to determine if Hannah accepted the resignation before Mounts rescinded it.
The case will once again be presented to the Civil Service Commission on Jan. 10, 2013, which will be after Sheriff Hannah’s term as sheriff concludes and the sheriff-elect, Eugene Crum assumes the position. More information regarding this matter will be released as it becomes available.