CHARLESTON – Gov. Jim Justice says convicted and suspended state Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry should resign.
“I wish to goodness that Judge Loughry would just do what seems to be the right thing,” Justice said Oct. 22 during a press conference. “Now, I don’t portray to know every little detail, but it just seems the right thing is resignation and go on down the road.”
Last week, Loughry’s attorney John Carr filed a motion with the state Supreme Court to have his impending impeachment trial stopped. The court already has granted such a request to Chief Justice Margaret Workman and former Justice Robin Jean Davis.
The week before that, a federal jury found Loughry guilty on 11 of 22 counts during his criminal trial. He was accused of mail and wire fraud, witness tampering and lying to federal agents. His sentencing is scheduled for January.
Loughry was suspended earlier this year by the state Supreme Court based on 32 similar charges brought against him by the state Judicial Investigation Commission. He also was impeached – along with Workman, Davis and Justice Beth Walker. Walker already had her trial in the state Senate and was acquitted.
Earlier this month, an acting Supreme Court ruled in Workman’s favor to stop her impeachment trial on constitutional and procedural grounds, saying the House of Delegate did not follow proper procedures. That included not passing a full resolution adopting the articles of impeachment and not having the findings of fact in the articles. Davis filed a motion similar to Loughry and had her impending trial stopped by Cabell Circuit Judge Paul Farrell, who is overseeing the impeachment trials. No ruling has been issued concerning Loughry’s impeachment trial yet.
But during his Oct. 22 press conference, Justice said he wasn’t ready to call the House back into special session yet to deal with the issue.
“I’ve thought a lot about it. And the Justice Loughry thing is … It’s terribly unfortunate in many ways, especially unfortunate to the state of West Virginia,” he said. “While it is monstrously important, unbelievably important, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the drama. And we don’t need to be wrapped up in the drama.
“We need to stay with what are the facts and what we should do. From my standpoint, I want to stay with the facts. The facts are just this. The House needs to do their job, and they will. And the Senate needs to do their job, and they will. Those people need to speak, and those people need to find direction without me imposing my wishes on them.”
He said the ruling on the Workman motion was a “curveball that no one really would have expected.”
“So, from that, I think it would be horribly unfair for me to intervene prior to the House and Senate not working through their situations. And that’s what they need to do. And they will, because they’re really good.”
Justice said what he hates most about the entire situation is how it’s drawing unwanted attention on the Mountain State.
“What I hate about it more than anything is it puts a national eye on West Virginia that’s not good,” Justice said. “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge in any way the reporting of what we’re talking about. I’m not saying that. I’m not saying that at all. But, I’m just cautioning all of us … we need to stay with the facts. Because every day that this continues on, and it has embarrassed West Virginia, and it has hurt West Virginia. And every day it hurts us until it’s over.”