by Ron Gregory
CHARLESTON – A specially composed West Virginia supreme court wasted little time granting a motion to suspend Justice Allen Loughry without pay pending the outcome of charges lodged against him.
Temporary Chief Justice Joanna Tabit, appointed by Chief Justice Margaret Workman, announced the makeup of the temporary justices yesterday. By today, they had issued the order suspending Loughry.
Loughry is charged with violating 32 rules in the code of conduct and of lying to reporters, legislators and fellow justices. The formal statement of charges was filed June 6 by judicial disciplinary counsel Teresa Tarr. Workman and the other four sitting justices immediately recused themselves from hearing matters related to their colleague.
Tabit appointed Judge Robert Burnside, Senior Status Judge James Rowe, Judge Russell Clawges and Judge Jennifer Dent as temporary justices for the Loughry matters. The justice has 30 days to respond to the charges against him.
Loughry had been at the center of controversy since WCHS-TV’s Kennie Bass aired a series of investigative reports indicating lavish spending when Loughry was chief justice. He also uncovered examples of court furnishings being housed at Loughry’s private residence and then being moved to a court warehouse when the location was made public.
Loughry also apparently created problems for he and the acting court administrator when they failed to inform other justices that a government subpoena had been served on the court. It was not until a second subpoena came that Loughry and Administrator Gary Johnson informed the remainder of the court.
In suspending Loughry, the order says, “having maturely considered the motion pursuant to Rule 2:14© of the Rules of Judicial Disciplinary Procedure, the Court is of the opinion that there is probable cause to believe the respondent has engaged or is currently engaging in serious violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct.”
As part of the suspension, Loughry is forbidden to hear any further civil or criminal matter “or perform any other judicial functions during the pendency of these judicial disciplinary proceedings.” The ruling goes on to say that a request that Loughry’s law license be suspended is deferred at the present time. Loughry can appeal the suspension decision within 30 days as well. The order lists attorney John A. Carr of Charleston as Loughry’s legal representative.