CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman announced Thursday evening her appointment of Cabell County Circuit Judge Paul Farrell Jr. to the high court, serving in place of suspended Justice Allen Loughry.
Loughry is suspended from the court without pay due to charges of judicial misconduct.
Workman signed the order four days before the House of Delegates will reconvene to consider the impeachment of Loughry and the three remaining court justices.
“Court employees have received many inquiries about whether the work of the court will continue as scheduled in the term that begins Sept. 5. It will,” Workman said in a statement. “The court calendar is set and the docket will proceed as usual.”
Loughry faces 32 charges of violating the West Virginia Judicial Code of Conduct. The state Judicial Investigation Commission accused Loughry of engaging in actions tied to expensive renovation work and furniture purchases. The commission also alleged Loughry of lying to reporters about these matters.
Loughry also faces 23 federal criminal charges because of court spending, the use of state property and alleged obstruction of justice. The criminal indictment alleges Loughry blamed others for the misuse of Supreme Court funds and property.
Loughry’s trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 2.
Justice Menis Ketchum resigned from the court at the end of July. He previously agreed to plead guilty to a wire fraud charge in connection with the federal investigation into the court
Ketchum is cooperating with investigators, admitting to the personal use of a state-issued vehicle and fuel card. The maximum sentence is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Ketchum’s plea hearing is scheduled for Aug. 23.
Workman’s order noted the 14 articles of impeachment against the four serving justices. According to the order, Farrell would serve as acting chief justice over impeachment proceedings if the state Senate considers articles of impeachment.
“Supreme Court justices are constitutionally required to keep the Court open and will continue to fulfill their constitutional duties,” Workman said.
The House Judiciary Committee passed 14 articles of impeachment Tuesday, accusing the four justices of not establishing policies regarding remodeling work, travel budgets and home computer use.
One of the articles alleges the justices circumvented state law to pay senior status judges as contractors, allowing them to make more money than allowed.
The Senate would hear any articles of impeachment passed by the House of Delegates. A two-thirds majority vote is required to remove any justices from the court.
Ferrell was appointed to the Cabell County Circuit Court in February 2011 and was elected to the position in 2012. He previously practiced law at Farrell, Farrell and Farrell PLLC, served as counsel for the West Virginia Senate President and served in Cabell County, state and federal offices.