Lester v. Summerfield

In Lester v. Summerfield, 180 W. Va. 572, 378 S.E.2d 293 (1989), the circuit court concluded that a deputy sheriff, who had been reappointed to his position following a two-year absence from the force, could use the date of his original appointment to provide him greater seniority for purposes of a lay-off. In granting the writ, the Court held in the single Syllabus point of Lester that, for lay-off purposes, "the term 'appointment' cannot be read to mean the date of original appointment for those deputy sheriffs who have been appointed by reinstatement under W. Va. Code, 7-14-8." 180 W. Va. 572, 378 S.E.2d 293. The Court discussed the procedure to reinstate a deputy sheriff under W. Va. Code 7-14-8. The Lester court stated: At issue here is W. Va. Code, 7-14-8, which provides a procedure for reappointment of a former deputy. . . . The decision whether to reappoint a former deputy is entirely discretionary, as the statute places "eligibility for appointment by reinstatement in the discretion of the civil service commission." There are significant advantages that accrue to a former deputy who utilizes this procedure. For example, a deputy sheriff appointed by reinstatement need not submit to the commission's competitive examination. Second, the appointment decision in such cases is made directly by the commission, and not by the sheriff. Finally, the reinstated deputy is not required to undergo a probationary period. It appears that W. Va. Code, 7-14-8, reflects a legislative policy to encourage deputy sheriffs who terminate their employment to return to public service. The reason for this policy is manifest: a trained deputy with prior field experience is a valuable asset to the county and additional costs in training him need not be incurred. W. Va. Code, 7-14-8, offers an incentive to apply for reinstatement by substantially easing the application process. (Lester, 180 W. Va. at 574-75, 378 S.E.2d at 295-96.)