Investigation

Loughry may have broken the law

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry — who, ironically, wrote a book about political corruption — has been accused of 32 instances of misconduct himself. Among them are lying about previous allegations of misbehavior, then attempting to blame someone else.

Loughry not only violated the Code of Judicial Conduct, but he also may have broken the law, members of the state Judicial Investigation Commission allege. The panel’s general counsel has suggested Loughry’s law license should be suspended and he should be suspended without pay from the high court.

Though he has not been formally charged with crimes, only violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Loughry reported is under investigation by federal authorities.

As we reported, the allegations stem from a scandal that surfaced last year, over spending at the court. You may remember it as the affair of the $32,000 couch purchased for Loughry’s office. Other extravagances, not limited to Loughry, also were reported.

The investigation panel accused Loughry of lying repeatedly, to both the press and state legislators, about the spending issue. It also suggested he may have violated the state Ethics Act in having another couch taken to his home. He later had it returned.

Loughry had served as chief justice. The other four justices removed him from that post. According to investigators, that occurred after the other justices learned Loughry had concealed from them the fact that two federal subpoenas had been served on the Supreme Court. What the subpoenas involved has not been revealed. Neither Loughry nor his attorney have commented on the accusations.

If even some of them are true, Loughry should resign from the state Supreme Court. He should lose his law license permanently.

And, depending on the seriousness of what is proven about his misbehavior, prosecution should be pursued.

Sadly, West Virginians are all too familiar with corruption among public officials. But when it involves a man at the very top of the state’s law enforcement chain of command, a man who wrote a book condemning corruption, it falls into a special category.

If the accusations against Loughry are true, he ought to be punished in every way possible and as severely as the law permits. Justice of the kind Mountain State residents ought to be able to expect demands it.

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