UPDATE 11/06/2013 5:20 PM
One man's battle against Mayor Bob Newell and the City of Parkersburg comes to an end in federal court.
A federal court judge dismissed Joseph Backus' libel and invasion of privacy lawsuit against the city.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin granted the city's request for a summary judgement dismissing the suit filed by the former city council candidate.
Backus accused the city of libel and an invasion of privacy regarding background checks done on him following critical comments made by Backus.
Backus wanted $12 million in damages.
Backus-- who contacted us Wednesday--claims he could appeal the judge's ruling. He declined to comment further, on the advice of his attorney.
Updated: 12/21/2012 6:40 P.M.
Mayor Bob Newell confirms the latest of those sworn depositions happened at his city hall office Thursday.
Joseph Backus claimed the mayor and police conducted illegal background checks which his reputation..
That suit was filed back in June.
Mayor Newell, the city of Parkersburg and Police Chief Joe Martin have all stated Backus suffered no damages from the checks.
Updated: 7/06/2012 11:25 A.M.
The defendants in a civil suit filed by a Parkersburg resident say a background check done on him was legal.
Joseph Backus filed the suit in June, naming the City of Parkersburg, Mayor Bob Newell and Police Chief Joseph Martin.
Backus claimed background checks conducted of him by the city were illegal, and that his reputation was damaged by e-mails sent to local news media.
In a response to Backus' suit, filed this week in federal court, attiorneys for Newell, Martin and the city say Backus suffered no damages from the checks, and that his claim for punitive damages violates the defendants' rights.
The response goes on to say the city, Newell and Martin acted in good faith and in the interersts of the city. They request a jury trial where possible.
Response from Mayor Newell
"The City of Parkersburg was served with the lawsuit from Mr. Backus yesterday. Our insurance carrier has assigned an attorney and the case will be moved to Federal Court in Charleston for dismissal.
Mr. Backus has no basis for a lawsuit. He is the only person to this day to inform the public through the local media of his private or public difficulties. His name was never mentioned in an email to the General Manager of WTAP Television or the publisher of the Parkersburg News & Sentinel.
No information has been released by the City of Parkersburg about anyone involved in the Tea Party. As a matter of fact, Sandy Staats came to my office and commended me for never attacking her personally or making derogatory statements about her even after she had posted a photograph on the Tea Party Website depicting me as a Nazi.
We will seek reimbursement from Mr. Backus for any costs that occur in this frivolous lawsuit after dismissal. "
Joseph Backus says his background has no similarity to that of Jared Lee Laughner, accused of the fatal shootings in Arizona in which a congresswoman was seriously injured.
"He called me anti-government," Backus said, referring to an e-mail Mayor Bob Newell sent to Parkersburg media shortly after the shootings. "Well, I'm running for city council. Does that sound anti-government? I have never said or done anything that would give him reason to compare me to the shooter in Arizona."
Backus says his only criminal past was a shoplifting case 20 years ago that he says he was never tried for. He says his reputation was damaged by e-mails the mayor sent to area news media. The e-mail did not mention Backus, but referred to a local person whose profile he said matched that of the arizona shooter.
The mayor told was asked Tuesday if Backus' suit was political in nature.
"I think people are smart enough that if this weren't an election year, they wouldn't be doing all this," the mayor said. "I think it's a little grandstanding by a few to take their last shot, or their best shot."
Backus says he wasn't influenced by anyone to file the suit. He is representing himself, after he says he could not find an attorney to do so.
"I just found out in March that these background checks were being conducted, and I immediately began seeking legal action. Whether this was an election year or not, it wouldn't have mattered."
Backus says he is not a member of the Parkersburg Tea Party. He says he has been to some meetings, and circulated petitions in last year's attempt to remove from office the mayor and council members who voted to enact the city user fee.
Backus has also made a civil rights complaint to the FBI.
We have not heard from the FBI on the status of that complaint.
It was statements like this from the president of the Parkersburg Tea Party, which Mayor Bob Newell says prompted him to seek background checks on individuals such as Joe Backus:
(Question: Is this a way to influence some members of council who have voted against the user fee to change their votes?)
(Sandy Staats: "Absloutely.")
Another reason, he says, was the fatal shootings in Arizona in early 2011, in which then-congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was seriously wounded.
"After the shooting in Arizona, we checked a couple of names, in fact," Mayor Newell said Tuesday. "We had several pieces of information that gave us concern."
Tea party president Sandy Staats, who says she, too, was the subject of a background check, denies there was any threat or actions by the organization against the mayor. In a statement, Staats said Joe Backus, who filed the suit, is not a member of the tea party, has only attended one tea party meeting, and that the suit itself has nothing to do with the tea party.
The mayor says part of his concern is security for Parkersburg's municipal building, which does not have guards or metal detectors.
"Our only other alternative is to do what the other federal and county buildings do around here," the mayor said, "and that is to shut the doors, and put up metal detectors. And I'm just not inclined to do that."
The tea party has largely been out of the public eye lately. but although Backus may not be a member, what it may have done is reignite the differences between the city and the organization.
Joseph K. Backus, a Parkersburg resident, city council candidate and city critic, has filed a $12 million lawsuit, charging the mayor and police department conducted illegal background checks on him.
Backus, in the suit filed late Monday, said those checks violated his first, fourth and 14th ammendment rights.
He also claims he was defamed by e-mails sent by Mayor Newell to WTAP and the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.
The suit names the city, the mayor and Police Chief Joe Martin as defendants.