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Former candidate drops Herald-Mail libel suit

May 12, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A local minister and unsuccessful Berkeley County Commission candidate who sued the The Herald-Mail Co. last week alleging the newspaper had printed a libelous story about his stance on zoning has withdrawn the case, according to court officials.

John E. Wright said he decided to drop the lawsuit after reading the Bible. "I prayed for God to give me comfort and the indication I got was there would be no comfort in this lawsuit," Wright said.

Wright said he wants to put the matter behind him. "I hold no malice toward any reporter or any paper," he said.

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Amanda L. Lewis, Wright's lawyer, said Wright "just didn't have a good feeling about it (the suit)."

"While we are sure we would have prevailed in court, it's nice not to have the hassle of a trial," said Gloria George, executive editor of The Herald-Mail.

In a story published May 7, 1996, The Herald-Mail Co. wrote that Wright opposed zoning, but that Wright signed an order hiring a consulting firm to draft the regulation, according to Berkeley County Circuit Court records.

The story said Wright signed the order when he was a commissioner in 1988, according to the suit.

Wright alleged in the suit that the statement was inaccurate.

Zoning, which involves designating certain areas of the county for development, has been a controversial issue in Berkeley County. Voters soundly defeated a proposal to allow zoning last May following a vigorous anti-zoning campaign.

In the same election, Wright lost the Republican primary race for an open seat on the commission.

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