- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2002

ROANOKE (AP) The chief clerk in the Roanoke General District Court violated standards of conduct during a tirade against two veteran employees, a state Supreme Court panel said.
The panel ruled after a two-day hearing last month on complaints about Clerk Ron Albright from deputies Mary Waddell and Shirley Livengood, who said they decided to retire because of his abuse.
The two deputies said they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder after years of Mr. Albright's tirades, directed either at them or in their presence. Miss Waddell, supervisor of the criminal division, worked in the office 26 years. Miss Livengood, assistant supervisor of the traffic division, is a 17-year employee.
"We have just seen it for years and years," Miss Waddell said of Mr. Albright's outbursts, which she said include yelling and throwing stools, money and other things. "It was God's grace that kept me in that office that long."
The women, who have not been back to work since the March 7 incident, said they ran out of medical-leave time long ago. The panel determined that the court should restore their leave, and with it the wages lost when their leave expired.
While both said they could not bear to return to work there, they do not want to see Mr. Albright lose his job.
"We've told him to his face, you need time off. You need help," Miss Livengood said.
Mr. Albright, chief clerk since 1983, said he is not allowed to discuss the case and directed questions to Chief Judge Julian Raney. The judge was on vacation.
The Virginia Attorney General's Office, which represented the Roanoke court in the hearing, declined to comment.
Miss Livengood and Miss Waddell said Mr. Albright is regularly rude, cursing at employees and the public. They said they reported Mr. Albright's conduct to Judge Raney, who sent out a memo to the office's staff.
In a memo, Judge Raney wrote: "Verbal or physical conduct by any employee which harasses, disrupts or interferes with another's work performance or which creates an intimidating, offensive or hostile environment will not be tolerated."
The deputies appealed to the Supreme Court, saying that Judge Raney tolerates Mr. Albright's behavior.
"There is verbal abuse" in which Mr. Albright "shakes his finger and screams" at some of the older ladies in the office, Miss Waddell wrote.
His numerous apologies "and the tears of remorse he usually shows after one of his outbursts simply do not work," she added.
"He yells, he apologizes, he cries, but then he continues to do it again and again."
At least one former employee of Mr. Albright's office disagreed with the accusations against the clerk in an affidavit she submitted for the hearing.
Julia Peters worked in the Roanoke office from June 1997 until she recently left for a job closer to home at the Bedford County General District Court.
In the affidavit, she said she found the actions of Miss Waddell and Miss Livengood "offensive and morally wrong."
"I have never seen Mr. Albright throw anything in the office. I also have not seen him direct a curse word at anyone. His use of curse words in general conversation is not excessive," she wrote.
After hearing evidence, the panel recommended that Judge Raney develop a management plan for the office and encouraged him to ask for help from the Supreme Court's human resources department.


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