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On Valentine’s Day, news broke that former state Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry will spend two years in prison for using his position for personal gain, actions which came to light as reporters looked into lavish spending on renovations at the court, and Loughry sought to shirk responsibility and shift blame by going to federal prosecutors.
The news coverage exposed what would become a scandal involving all five Supreme Court judges. Impeachment proceedings began, some resignations ensued, and that set the stage for the governor to make two highly partisan appointments to fill vacancies on the court.
For ordinary West Virginians, the scandal underscores how essential transparency and accountability are in maintaining trust in the Supreme Court. Importantly, the real transparency and accountability that West Virginians demand goes far beyond the reforms state legislators have been focused on.
For the governor and Legislature, the scandal provides an ongoing opportunity to implement reforms to improve the integrity of and restore confidence in the Court. Or not.
Read the full op ed here. Written by Julie Archer and Vivian Stockman, leaders of WV Citizens for Clean Elections, a coalition working to increase transparency and accountability in West Virginia elections, and ensure that our courts are fair and impartial.