CHARLESTON — Less than a month before the scheduled federal trial of Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry, U.S. attorneys have asked the presiding judge to limit admission of “self-serving, out-of-court statements” and “improper character evidence.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office made two separate motions last week about limiting certain kinds of evidence. Loughry’s lawyer has not yet filed a response.
Loughry’s trial, set for Oct. 2 in Charleston, deals not only with the use of his public office for private gain but also matters amounting to criminal dishonesty — making false statements to a federal agent and witness tampering.
When controversy over Supreme Court spending first became public about this time last year, Loughry blamed former court administrator Steve Canterbury in broadcast interviews, in newspaper op-ed columns and before the state House Finance Committee.
The way Loughry has presented himself is a theme in both of the motions filed Aug. 28 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
The first asks the judge to “preclude the introduction by Defendant of self-serving, exculpatory statements. Any such statements is hearsay and is inadmissible by Defendant.”
The motion then references how Loughry presented himself to investigators.
“During the course of the investigation of this case, investigating agents conducted several interviews with Defendant,” the motion states. “Those interviews contain self-serving statements, which may be viewed as exculpatory.
“For example, Defendant expressed his disagreement with the manner in which the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals spent public funds. He also expressed concerns over the lack of fiscal oversight by other justices and court administration.”
The second motion asks to preclude impermissible character evidence.
The motion acknowledges that a defendant may offer evidence of a pertinent trait.
“In this case, in which defendant Loughry stands charged with fraud, tampering with a witness, obstruction of justice and lying to an FBI agent, the character traits of being honest or being a law abiding-citizen are relevant.”
But the motion asks to keep Loughry from providing evidence of other character traits that are not relevant to the case.
“For example, he might try to present evidence of a character trait for generosity or for having an abiding love of West Virginia,” the motion states. “Generosity, however, is not a pertinent character trait in this case. Nor is his love of his home state.”
The motion continues that those are just examples of the kinds of character traits that Loughry might try to establish.
The U.S. attorneys have requested a court order directing Loughry to provide any character evidence at the beginning of the case, so the parties may work through whether any particular trait is pertinent.
“For the foregoing reasons, the United States respectfully requests this Court to order that, prior to the beginning of the defense case at trial, defendant Allen H. Loughry II proffer to the Court any anticipated character evidence and explain his intended methods of proof to ensure that the anticipated evidence will satisfy the Rules of Evidence.”
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