Commissioner alleges threats
Pratt says attorney Holt sent threatening texts
Friday saw a legal proceeding in the court of Magistrate D.L. McWhorter with Lawrence County Commission President Bill Pratt, Republican, asking for restraining order against attorney JT Holt.
He also serves as the fiscal director for the STAR Community Justice Center, a member of the Lawrence County Board of Elections, the solicitor for the Village of Proctorville and a law clerk with the Ironton Municipal Court.
In a filing with the court, Pratt said that on Sept. 25, he received a series of text messages from Holt that he felt were threatening. According to Pratt’s filing, the phrases included “Be seeing ya” and “you’re in for it buddy,” which Pratt felt were “politically orientated.”
Both men were at the Collins Career Technical Center’s annual fall Hog Roast on Oct. 10, an event that many of those involved in Lawrence County politics attend.
Pratt said, in the filing, he was “approached by Mr. Holt in an aggressive manner. I extended by hand expecting an apology. He refused and immediately began to cuss” and “to threaten me physically.”
Pratt filed a criminal complaint report with the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office against Holt for public menacing.
Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless confirmed that the report was filed and said his detectives are investigating the case and could turn something over to the county prosecutor’s office as early as this Monday.
Both Holt and Pratt were at the hearing on Friday. They came into the courtroom through separate doors before the hearing and didn’t speak in the courthouse hallway after the hearing.
In the hearing, McWhorter asked Pratt if he still wanted to proceed with the petition for a protection order for stalking and Pratt said he did.
Holt said he disagreed with the petition being issued.
Pratt said he expected to call around three witnesses and Holt said he expected to call at least six.
Holt also made a motion for Pratt not to delete texts from his phone on certain dates so the court could review them.
“I can think of no better evidence to speak to his subjective state of mind and to whether what he was communicating and indicating in his subjective view of his interaction with me,” Holt told the judge, who asked if he was going to issue a subpoena on that.
McWhorter asked Pratt if he would agree to not delete texts on the specific dates of Sept. 25 and Oct. 9 and 10. Pratt said that was fine with him.
The judge put into a pretrial order that those text messages were not to be deleted and Holt said he would issue a subpoena for specific texts.
A pretrial hearing on a stalking protection order was scheduled for 1 p.m. on Nov. 19.
Following the hearing, Pratt said that he filed for a protection order because of texts that he considered threatening and for confrontation at the hog roast. The court did not issue an ex parte order to that effect and there is no protection order in place at this time.
He said that he felt, because of the nature of the political environment in Washington, D.C., where certain individuals are calling for public officials to be confronted, that he needed to take it seriously.
“I filed a report with the sheriff’s office and then did contact the Domestic Violence Task Force because that is who you file with to get a civil protection order through,” Pratt said. “I am trying to take the proper steps to not only protect myself, but the office in general as a county commissioners and other elected public officials as well. I’m just trying to take the proper steps as best as I see fit.”
Holt said that he would not comment on the facts of the case but looked “forward to addressing the matter in court and to let the legal process play out.”
He did, however, say the allegations were false.
“I unequivocally deny the allegations and believe the misuse of the civil protection order process is an insult to actual victims of domestic violence,” Holt said. “Unfortunately, a sitting county commissioner has chosen to use this process to play out a political grudge.”
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