CHARLESTON – Allen Loughry has resigned from the West Virginia Supreme Court.
Gov. Jim Justice announced Nov. 10 he had received the resignation letter of the convicted and suspended justice.
"I hereby resign my position as a justice on the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia at the close of business on November 12, 2018," Loughry's letter, which was dated Nov. 9, states.
Loughry's resignation also forced Justice to rescind his call for a special legislative session scheduled for Nov. 13 to address Loughry's impeachment. The special session had been announced Nov. 9, two days after state Senate President Mitch Carmichael and House Speaker Roger Hanshaw had sent Justice a letter requesting the special session.
“We appreciate that Justice Loughry has decided to do the right thing and step down from the court," Carmichael said. "With his resignation and the overwhelming support of the Judicial Budget Oversight Amendment by voters, I believe we are well on our way to rebuilding the trust of our citizens in the judicial branch.”
Justice rescinded the call for the session on Nov. 11 after Carmichael and Hanshaw requested that following Loughry's resignation announcement. He said he was happy to do so.
“Rescinding the special session will save taxpayers thousands of dollars and finally end this saga that brought so much unnecessary negative attention and embarrassment to West Virginia," Justice said. "We are another step closer to restoring honor and integrity to our highest court."
Carmichael and Hanshaw said they believe the looming special session spurred Loughry's resignation.
“Without a doubt, the governor’s action prompted a resolution to this judicial crisis and saved us the pain and expense of another impeachment," Carmichael said.
“The governor’s calling of the special session created an atmosphere that brought a quick resolution to our state’s judicial nightmare and puts us on a path to restore confidence in our court," Hanshaw said.
Loughry awaits sentencing on 11 federal felony convictions of wire fraud, mail fraud, witness tampering and lying to federal agents. On Nov. 6, Loughry’ attorney John Carr filed a second motion in federal court seeking acquittal or a new trial on nine of those convictions, including seven for wire fraud, one for mail fraud and one for witness tampering.
If Loughry’s motions seeking a new federal trial are unsuccessful, his sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 16, just two days after his hearing before the state Judicial Hearing Board.
Last month, the state Judicial Hearing Board scheduled a hearing for Loughry for Jan. 14 after lifting a stay. The board had issued the stay pending Loughry’s federal trial. On the same day, the state Judicial Investigation Commission amended its formal charges against Loughry to include the federal convictions.
The JIC filed its statement of charges against Loughry in early June. That statement of charges led to Loughry being suspended by the state Supreme Court based on those 32 charges. He also was impeached – along with current Chief Justice Margaret Workman, retired Justice Robin Jean Davis and Justice Beth Walker, who takes over as Chief Justice on Jan. 1.
If Loughry hadn’t resigned and the Legislature had started a new impeachment proceeding against him, the new article seemingly would have focused on Loughry’s federal convictions.
“We sent a letter down asking for him (Justice) to call the special session for Tuesday for Loughry and (Chief Justice Margaret) Workman,” Carmichael told The West Virginia Record. “Now, the governor’s office may or may not want to do both of them. You’ll have to ask them that, I guess.”
Carmichael said those two were included in the letter based on the notion that the House of Delegates had messed up procedurally before, leading to Workman filing a motion to have her first impeachment trial stopped.
But the governor's call for a special session only mentioned Loughry.
Walker already had her trial in the state Senate and was acquitted. Before her September trial was scheduled to begin, Workman filed a motion to have her impeachment halted. An acting state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Workman, basing the decision on constitutional and procedural grounds such as the House of Delegates not following proper procedures during the impeachment proceedings. The same acting Supreme Court later issued an order saying that ruling extended to Davis and Loughry as well.
“It’s all in the context of the notion that the House did this wrong,” Carmichael said. “Any call should be issued should include the same justices that were on the same call. But, Beth Walker already has been tried. She went through the process. And Robin Davis has resigned, so I don’t see how she could be included in it now. Unless it’s based on the fact that she’s now a senior status judge.”
The latest federal filing by Carr doesn’t replace the motion he filed last month on behalf of Loughry. The earlier one was sealed, but the new filing says it adds to issues mentioned in the earlier one.
“Because the evidence introduced in this case is insufficient even in the light most favorable to the United States to sustain a conviction of the specified counts, the defendant respectfully requests that this court enter a judgement of acquittal on these counts, and order a new trial on any remaining counts,” the Nov. 6 motion states.
Last month, the governor said he thought 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. “It just seems the right thing is resignation and go on down the road.”
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.”
A native of Tucker County, Loughry was elected to a 12-year term on the court in 2012. He served as Chief Justice in 2017. He has four law degrees, and he also served as a senior assistant Attorney General under former AG Darrell McGraw from 1997 to 2003. He became a clerk at the state Supreme Court in 2003.
In 2006, he wrote a book titled “Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a Landslide,” which detailed West Virginia’s history of political corruption.
In late 2017, media reports led by WCHS-TV’s Kennie Bass highlighted large amounts of spending by the state Supreme Court for renovations to the justice’s offices and other areas of the court offices at the state Capitol. Much of the ensuing public outrage focused on a $32,000 couch with $1,700 worth of throw pillows for Loughry’s office as well as a $7,500 wooden floor inlay featuring the state of West Virginia for his office floor.
Two weeks after the JIC charged him with 32 counts of ethics violations, Loughry was arrested – on June 20, West Virginia Day – by the FBI and charged with what ended up being 25 federal charges.