Community, The Braxton Democrat

Former Braxton Attorney Jim Douglas has close call

Kanawha Family Court and former Braxton County attorney Judge Jim Douglas was injured Monday when a bullet struck a cruise ship he was traveling on in Portland, Oregon. According to an article published in Wednesday’s Charleston Gazette, a bullet pierced thick glass on the Portland Spirit dinner cruise boat Monday night mildly injuring Douglas who was aboard the boat with longtime companion Phyllis Veith.
At around 9:30 p.m., as the ship maneuvered to dock, a bullet tore a sizable hole in thick glass on the other side of the ship from where Douglas and Vieth were seated.
“Where I was seated, a large, thick canvas curtain was almost touching my shoulder,” Douglas told the Gazette in an interview by phone on Tuesday. “Just as we started that turn [to dock], I heard a loud pop. I heard one guy yell and a couple of women screamed. In my peripheral vision I saw the curtain move. Instantaneously, I felt a pain in my right arm and tricep.” Douglas had a bruise the next day but no broken skin.
Coincidentally, Douglas had penned an Op-Ed a couple of weeks ago for inclusion in the Gazette-Mail. It appeared Tuesday. He outlines violence perpetrated against judges all over the country and opines that family court judges in Kanawha County are even more vulnerable than their circuit judge colleagues.
The ship’s owner said Douglas was not actually struck by the bullet. The slug, flattened by passing through the thick glass on the other side of the deck, and came to rest about 18 inches from his foot. Portland Police Officer Eric Brewer disagreed. He said he believes the judge was hit by the bullet. “We found that the slug was a lot closer than we did some small, broken glass pieces,” Brewer said. “He said he heard what sounded like a champagne cork popping, then he felt like he’d been punched in the shoulder. If that was the case, it probably wasn’t glass. There was only a large glass piece on that side of the room.”
Douglas seemed puzzled as to why the cruise line would want to blame flying glass. The boat owners aren’t denying someone shot a bullet through the window. He was wearing a long-sleeved shirt. No glass cut him.
The judge said he did not fully appreciate the ordeal until he got back in his car afterward. “I didn’t stage this,” he said. “I think they’re doing damage control. Playing it down is not going to solve the problem.
“I told those folks, ‘I think I’m going to play the lottery.’ They all said, ‘No, I think you used it all up tonight,’” the Gazette article stated.