No need to rush House’s impeachment proceedings

Some say no matter how you look at life, you lose.
That is, setbacks, failures, defeats and, of course, ultimately, death are a given. Still, we like to think that how you conduct yourself during those losses counts for a whole lot.
On June 6, the state Judicial Investigation Commission filed a
32-count complaint against West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry. Two days later, he was suspended without pay by a temporary high court, after its current justices recused themselves.
Twelve days after that — on our state’s birthday — Loughry was indicted on 32 counts by a federal grand jury. Then, on June 26, impeachment proceedings got underway in the Legislature.
Through all this, Loughry has maintained his innocence and refused to resign.
Despite this appearing to be an open and shut case and a chorus of calls for his resignation, including this newspaper’s, lawmakers must not proceed in haste.
Some have suggested that the House Judiciary Committee expedite its work and recommend articles of impeachment against Loughry immediately.
Ditto for the full House to vote on proceeding with articles of impeachment that committee recommends.
The case would then head to the state Senate for trial. A conviction would strip Loughry of his position.
There are some who want this matter resolved by Aug. 14. That is the cutoff date for when an open seat on this bench could be filled in the Nov. 6 general election. Otherwise, the governor will appoint someone to fill Loughry’s unexpired term, which will not be over until 2024.
State Supreme Court justices serve 12-year terms. Loughry was elected to the high court in 2012.
It’s apparent that the Legislature should not be working under some misguided notion that there is any deadline. There’s not.
And even if the House should move quickly on Loughry’s potential impeachment — it’s not a tough call — this action is not limited to Loughry.
The resolution that initiated these impeachment proceedings authorizes the House to consider impeachment of any of the five justices.
Then too, if this case advances to the Senate, a trial will certainly not be over anytime soon.
Loughry should do the right thing and resign, if not to preserve any integrity he has left, then for the good of the state, court and entire judiciary.
Even then this court’s sordid history for the past 10-15 years still reads almost like a textbook on the corruption of another era.
So, a rush to judgment in this case is not going to inspire public trust and confidence in this court.
Whatever the outcome, don’t look for any winners or losers.
This time, we’ll settle for justice.

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