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Justice says Loughry should resign; not yet ready to call special session to reconsider impeachment

CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice said Monday convicted Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry should resign.

But Justice continued, he is not yet ready to call a special session for the Legislature to reconsider impeachment articles after a court ruling that threw the process up in the air.

The governor said he would like to hear more from the Senate and the House of Delegates about how they want to proceed.

“I’ve thought a lot about it, and it’s terribly unfortunate in many ways — especially unfortunate to the state of West Virginia,” Justice said.

“I wish to goodness that Justice Loughry would just do what seems to be the right thing. 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.”

A jury on Oct. 12 found Loughry guilty on 11 federal counts and not guilty on 10. The jury could not decide on one remaining count.

He was accused of mail fraud, wire fraud, tampering with a witness and lying to federal agents.

Loughry, who has been suspended from the Supreme Court, has a separate impeachment trial still scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 12.

Last Friday, a lawyer for Loughry asked for the impeachment trial to be blocked, citing the same reasons successfully argued earlier by Chief Justice Margaret Workman.

“Justice Allen H. Loughry II was impeached following the same procedures and on many of the grounds returned against Justice Workman,” according to the motion filed Friday by attorney John Carr.

“Justice Allen H. Loughry II respectfully moves the court to expand the writ issued in the Workman decision to prohibit the impeachment of Justice Loughry.”
There has not yet been a ruling on that motion.

The House of Delegates in August passed articles of impeachment against all of West Virginia’s remaining Supreme Court justices.

Workman challenged the grounds and procedures that led to her impeachment on three articles.

An acting version of the Supreme Court comprised of five circuit judges ruled in her favor.

Justice Robin Davis, like Loughry, asked for her own impeachment trial to be considered as part of the ruling on Workman. Davis’ trial was continued indefinitely.

Justice Beth Walker has already had an impeachment trial that lasted a little more than a day. She was acquitted, but the Senate passed a resolution censuring her.

The Senate majority has been considering how to challenge the ruling in Workman’s case.

One possibility that has been prominently discussed would be for the Senate to ask for reconsideration. The House of Delegates would likely ask to intervene.

Another possibility would be for the governor to call lawmakers back into special session to reconsider the articles of impeachment, particularly as they may apply to Loughry and his conviction.

Justice urged caution, though.

“I would caution all of us on this, too,” Justice said. “While it is monstrously important, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the drama. We don’t need to be wrapped up in the drama. We need to stay with what are the facts.

“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.”
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