Gov. Justice calls for special session to discuss fate of Justice Allen Loughry

CHARLESTON,W.Va. (WDTV) -- West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice is calling a special session.

Justice issued a proclamation Friday, calling for the state Legislature to convene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

Lawmakers will "consider matters relating to the removal of Allen Loughry, Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, including, but not limited to, censure, impeachment, trial, conviction, and disqualification, and legislation authorizing and appropriating the expenditure of public funds to pay the expenses for the Extraordinary Session."

Loughry and three other justices were impeached earlier this year by the state House of Delegates over questions involving lavish office renovations that evolved into accusations of corruption, incompetence and neglect of duty. It is now up to the West Virginia Senate to decide whether or not to officially remove the judge from office.

Allegations included overspending on office renovations, taking home an antique desk belonging to the state, using state vehicles for personal travel, using state computer equipment for personal tasks, lying to the House Finance Committee and circumventing state law to pay senior status circuit judges more than they were entitled to be paid during fill-in stints.

An impeachment trial for Loughry was set for 9 a.m. on Nov. 12, but he filed a motion to have his impeachment trial halted for the same reasons successfully argued by Chief Justice Margaret Workman.

An acting Supreme Court two weeks ago blocked Workman’s impeachment trial on constitutional and procedural grounds.

An aspect of the ruling suggested the House of Delegates had not gone through proper procedures for the impeachment process by not including findings of fact in the articles and failing to pass a full resolution adopting the articles.

In a criminal trial, Loughry was convicted of 11 federal counts. He has filed two motions for a new trial, contending "the evidence introduced in this case is insufficient even in the light most favorable to the United States to sustain a conviction."

The public information officer for the state Supreme Court tells WSAZ the criminal conviction has no bearing on the justice's seat on the high court. Loughry can only be removed from office if the Senate votes to remove him or he resigns. However, he remains suspended without pay and cannot preside over any cases.