Moats allows Cleavenger one more shot to prove her word

TAYLOR COUNTY—After continued failure to adhere to the rules of her extend supervision, one local woman found herself back in front of the Honorable Judge Alan D. Moats to answer for her actions. 

Misty Cleavenger was back in Taylor County Circuit Court, this time for a revocation hearing. According to Moats, the defendant had been previously sentenced by the court and was on extended supervision through the Taylor County Probation Office.

It was revealed that the office filed a report in March shortly before the shutdown of the courts in West Virginia due to COVID-19, for her noncompliance. Then, the probation office filed another report with the court documenting further failure to adhere to the terms of her supervision.

Probation Officer Jennifer Freeman noted in her report that Cleavenger had failed to make contact with her or report into the office since the fall. After several attempts were made, Freeman petitioned the court to have the defendant’s sentence reinstated and her extended supervision revoked. 

“Misty is prepared to admit she has had some issues,” said Greg Michael, defense counsel. “She was working a job, but that came to an end and she was struggling financially. She had no phone or mode of transportation to report to probation.” 

Freeman testified that she had previously supervised Cleavenger from 2016-2019, before leaving the office. Upon her return, she was began overseeing Cleavenger’s case once more in July 2020.

Freeman recounted a number of circumstances in which the defendant was given direct orders to follow the terms of her probation, but she chose not to comply, including her failure to check in regularly, her continued use of marijuana and her failure to register as a sexual offender.

“I don’t dispute anything that Ms. Freeman had to say,” Cleavenger told the court.

She told the court that messages were left with her mother to have the defendant get in contact with the office, but she didn’t learn of them until much later because her mother was suffering from early onset dementia. 

“I also had my vehicle break down on me, and because I lost my employment, I was unable to keep my cell phone turned on,” Cleavenger explained. “I have a means to comply now. Physically, I have my life where I can comply and check in.”

She also revealed to the court that during the time of her noncompliance, she had undergone a tremendous amount of emotional distress.

 “My sister was diagnosed with cancer, and my wife was suicidal. I had to physically take her and put her in a treatment facility. I know I wasn’t supposed to do it, but I used marijuana as a means to cope with the stress,” she testified. “I need counseling to address all of the emotional issues I’ve had to face, and I need help getting off of pot.”

Freeman noted that the Taylor County Probation Office has a great reputation for trying to work around the issue of people on their program.

“I am proud to be a part of that office,” she expressed. “These are all of the same type of issues we had with her in my prior supervision.”

Moats agreed that it seemed like the same “song and dance” that he had heard in previous revocation hearings for Cleavenger. 

“It’s the same old, same old. It’s always someone else’s fault. We just did all of this in March 2019, where you admitted to all of those violations. You have this victim mentality, and you think you can get away with not complying because you have issues,” Moats voiced. “Look around you. Everyone has issues!”

He reminded Cleavenger that she was facing a possible 50 years; 25 years for her current extended supervision and an additional 25 as a sanction for failure to comply. 

In an attempt to let the defendant prove her word, Moats ordered that he would allow an extension of time for her to comply before he would take action. After telling the court that she was willing to check in daily now, the judge further ordered that she would be required to not only check in with Freeman and the probation office, but now she would also be responsible for daily drug screenings through the Taylor County Community Corrections program.

“This is it for you. You fail to comply with this order, you will be going back to prison,” Moats warned. “You think you can game the system and now the game is over.”


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