Gov. Jim Justice received a resignation letter from convicted West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Allen Loughry on Friday, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office Saturday evening.
The letter contained only one sentence and indicated that Loughry’s final day in the position would be Monday.
“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,” the letter said.
The timing of Loughry’s resignation means that the governor will appoint someone to temporarily serve on the Supreme Court in Loughry’s place until a special election is held during the May 2020 primary election.
Friday afternoon, Justice called the Legislature into special session, set to begin on Tuesday, regarding the impeachment and suspension of Loughry, who has been suspended from the court and who is currently awaiting sentencing after being convicted of 11 federal felony charges involving mail fraud, wire fraud, making false statements to federal investigators and witness tampering earlier this fall.
Loughry and three other current or former justices — Margaret Workman, Robin Davis and Beth Walker — were impeached by the House of Delegates in August after an investigation into lavish use of public money and other resources by Supreme Court justices — including, infamously, a $32,000 couch purchased by Loughry and a “Cass Gilbert” desk that Loughry took home and then returned after a Gazette-Mail inquiry.
Former justice Menis Ketchum announced his resignation on the eve of the House’s impeachment proceedings, and Davis resigned after impeachment charges were brought against her in the House. Ketchum later pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge.
In October, impeachment trials began in the state Senate, which acquitted Walker of charges, choosing instead to reprimand her rather than remove her from the court. Chief Justice Workman sued to stop her impeachment, and a temporarily-seated Supreme Court — headed by Justice Paul Farrell, a Cabell County Circuit Court judge, and consisting of other appointed circuit judges — agreed with her, putting impeachment proceedings against her, Davis and Loughry on hold via a writ of prohibition.
The court, in a 65-page opinion, said the charges against Workman in the House were brought up unconstitutionally, violating separation of powers and due process provisions within the constitution. The court noted that the House made a number of procedural errors in bringing impeachment charges against the current and former judges.
While the writ applied specifically to Workman, it also blocked the other trials. Of the three still on trial, Loughry is the only justice convicted of felony charges in federal court. He is also the only justice facing state Judicial Investigation Commission charges for alleged violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct.