Updated: Friday, June 22, 2018 at 6:00 p.m.
Hours after a West Virginia Supreme Court justice pleaded not guilty in federal court, top legislators have asked committee chairmen to consider beginning impeachment proceedings against the embroiled justice and others.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael and House Speaker Tim Armstead sent a joint letter Friday to the Joint Judiciary Committee. The legislative leaders are asking the chairmen to “initiate a process of reviewing all available information for the purpose of evaluating impeachment proceedings which may be necessary for any member or members of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.”
“There is an ample and sufficient body of evidence available for your Committee to begin a review of these matters,” Carmichael and Armstead continued in the letter.
According to the letter, the review would include materials from recent legislative audits regarding the Supreme Court, a Judicial Investigation Committee complaint and the federal charges brought against state Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry.
Carmichael and Armstead have asked their respective judiciary chairmen -- Sen. Charles Trump and Del. John Shott -- to begin the review as soon as possible during the next regularly scheduled legislative interim meetings, which are slated for June 24 through June 26.
The evaluation is expected to include recommendations as to whether a special session is appropriate to take formal action related to any such potential impeachment.
Carmichael and Armstead's request came hours after Loughry pleaded not guilty to 22 federal charges, including fraud, witness tampering and making false statements. He remains free on $10,000 bond.
If convicted on all counts, Loughry could face a total of 395 years in prison, a fine of $5.5 million and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years.
Loughry was suspended without pay on Friday, June 8. Legislative leaders from both parties and Gov. Jim Justice have called for Loughry’s resignation. Gov. Justice also stated he "would be open to calling a special session" and that he planned to continue to have a dialogue with legislative leaders regarding the possibility of Loughry's impeachment.
Loughry’s next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 28 at 9:30 a.m. His travel is also restricted to the Southern District of West Virginia until that time.