CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A special session to impeach Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry is off because of his resignation.
Legislative leaders say there’s no reason to go ahead with Loughry’s impeachment now.
Gov. Jim Justice had called a special session for Tuesday, specifically for lawmakers to impeach Loughry, who has been convicted on 11 federal charges.
During legislative interim meetings on Sunday, state officials were in the act of unwinding the special session.
That involved the Senate President and the House Speaker sending a letter to the Governor’s Office to make the cancellation official.
By early evening, the governor had issued a proclamation.
Today I issued a proclamation that rescinds the Special Session of the Legislature called for Tuesday, November 13, 2018, in light of Allen Loughry’s resignation from the WV Supreme Court of Appeals. #WV #WVGov https://t.co/OMI4l52O1a
— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) November 11, 2018
“I am more than happy to do this,” Justice stated.
“Rescinding the Special Session will save taxpayers thousands of dollars and finally end this saga that brought so much unnecessary negative attention and embarrassment to West Virginia.”
House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, speaking prior to an afternoon meeting, said there is no reason to go ahead with Loughry’s impeachment.
“We think that’s that. Since he’s no longer a justice of the court, I can’t see any value in proceeding with any impeachment proceeding,” said Hanshaw, R-Clay.
The former chief justice has been suspended from the state Supreme Court but, technically, has still remained a part of it.
He was convicted last month on 11 federal counts of wire fraud, witness tampering and lying to federal investigators.
The Legislature had planned to consider impeachment of Loughry based simply on his conviction.
But then the justice announced his resignation.
In a simple one-sentence letter dated Friday, Loughry said, “I hereby resign my position as a Justice on the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia at the close of business on Nov. 12, 2018.”
Hanshaw said the state would have benefited if Loughry had resigned sooner.
“He’s been convicted of a number of federal penalties now, and that’s unfortunate for him and his family, but he could have helped himself by stepping forward a little bit earlier,” said Hanshaw, R-Clay.
House Minority Leader Tim Miley agreed there’s no reason to go ahead with impeachment of Loughry now.
“I don’t think there was any question he would have been impeached Tuesday in the House of Delegates,” said Miley, D-Harrison.
“I’m disappointed it took this long. He should have done this late spring, early summer when the Judicial Investigation Commission made its recommendations and suspended him.”
Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso agreed that Loughry’s resignation was the correct action.
“I think absolutely it was the right thing to do,” said Prezioso, D-Marion. “The course that he was on was the course of disaster. Why he held out so long, I have no indication why.
“If he was convicted in a federal court, he had no chance of getting through the Legislature.”
State Senate President Mitch Carmichael agreed that Loughry was correct to resign.
“We appreciate that Justice Loughry has decided to do the right thing and step down from the Court,” stated Carmichael, R-Jackson.
“With his resignation and the overwhelming support of the Judicial Budget Oversight Amendment by voters, I believe we are well on our way to rebuilding the trust of our citizens in the judicial branch.”
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.
In federal court, 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.