CHARLESTON – An acting state Supreme Court has issued an order saying the impeachment trials of convicted and suspended Justice Allen Loughry and retired Justice Robin Jean Davis shouldn’t take place either.
Earlier this month, the same five judges serving as the Supreme Court ruled Chief Justice Margaret Workman’s impeachment trial to not take place 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.
Soon after, attorneys for Davis filed a motion asking the ruling be extended to her impeachment trial. And then, Loughry’s attorney filed a similar motion.
“The Court no longer has jurisdiction to consider the motions because the mandate in this case has been issued,” the Oct. 25 order states. “Issuance of the mandate terminates jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in an action before this court, unless the court has provided by order … that a petition for rehearing may be filed after a mandate has issued.
“Furthermore, by operation of law, the motions are not necessary. ‘The general rule is that when a question has been definitively determined by this Court its decision is conclusive on parties, privies and courts ... and it is regarded as the law of the case.’
“The opinion in SER Workman v. Carmichael … is the law of this state.”
Justice Beth Walker already underwent an impeachment trial in the state Senate and was acquitted, but the Senate did vote to censure her.
Workman filed her petition with the Supreme Court to halt her trial, but she recused herself. The rest of the Supreme Court did as well, and Workman had Senior Status Judge Tom McHugh, a former Justice himself, to appoint a temporary chief justice to hear the case. He appointed Harrison Circuit Judge James Matish, and Matish then appointed Judge Ronald E. Wilson, Judge Duke Bloom, Judge Rudolph Murensky and Judge Jacob E. Reger to act as temporary justices as well.
After that ruling, Cabell Circuit Judge Paul Farrell – who is serving on the Supreme Court in place of Loughry during his suspension as well as serving as the president judge for the impeachment trials – said he wouldn’t preside over Workman’s trial.
Davis retired Aug. 13, the same day the House of Delegates passed 11 articles of impeachment against her and the other members of the court. During a press conference the next day, Davis was critical of the impeachment process, calling it political. She said she resigned then so voters could elect someone to her seat rather than have Gov. Jim Justice make a permanent appointment.
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. Earlier this month, 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. He will face the JIC charges just days before his sentencing.