House speaker: New impeachment for Loughry may be straight ahead

CHARLESTON — House Speaker Roger Hanshaw says it’s likely lawmakers will consider a new impeachment article next week, focusing on Justice Allen Loughry’s federal conviction.

“That’s up to the governor,” Hanshaw said on MetroNews’ “Talkline.” “We do anticipate being called into special session while we’re in town for interim meetings next week.”

Much of the talk has focused on a special session being called for Tuesday. This would align with regularly-scheduled legislative interim meetings, which already have a modest agenda.

Hanshaw suggested that impeaching Loughry based on his conviction could take place relatively quickly.

The saga of Loughry’s impeachment is long and winding.

The former chief justice has been suspended from the state Supreme Court but, technically, remains a part of it.

He was convicted last month on 11 federal counts of wire fraud, witness tampering and lying to federal investigators.

A couple of weeks ago, reporters asked Governor Justice whether he’d given thought to calling a special session for Loughry’s impeachment.

At the time, 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.”

The House of Delegates earlier voted to impeach Loughry on multiple articles, and an impeachment trial was set for this month in the Senate.

But then Chief Justice Margaret Workman, who also faced impeachment articles, challenged the process in the court system.

An acting version of the Supreme Court sided with Workman’s argument, declaring her impeachment invalid on separation-of-powers grounds and concluding the House of Delegates failed to follow its own process.

The judges who formed the acting court then clarified that the same ruling would nullify Loughry’s impeachment.

So one possibility with Loughry is to start over.

A complication could be that Loughry, through his attorney, has asked for a new federal trial.

Loughry’s attorney, John Carr, has actually filed two motions for a new trial.

The first is sealed, so it’s not yet clear what grounds it states.

The second contends federal prosecutors did not actually provide enough evidence to convict Loughry beyond a reasonable doubt.

“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,” Carr wrote.

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