Thornsbury disbarred

By Debbie Rolen

October 27, 2013

Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury consented to disbarment in a letter to the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel and submitted a one-line resignation letter to state Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin ahead of a hearing in which he was expected to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge.

The letter, which was delivered to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, read only, “Please accept this letter as my resignation as Judge of the Thirtieth Judicial Circuit in Mingo County, West Virginia.”

Thornsbury, 57, pleaded guilty of participating in a scheme to protect the reputation of the late Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum.

In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors said they would dismiss charges against Thornsbury in a separate case in which the judge repeatedly tried to frame his former secretary’s husband for false crimes to eliminate him as a romantic rival.

On October 18, 2013, Teresa A. Tarr, Judicial Disciplinary Counsel, pursuant to Rule 3.12 of the Rules of Judicial Disciplinary Procedure and Rule 3.25 of the Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Procedure, and presented to the Court its petition praying for the Court to accept the annulment of the license to practice law in the State of West Virginia of the respondent, Michael Thornsbury, and the formal affidavit, under seal, of the respondent consenting to voluntary disbarment.

At a regular term of the Supreme Court of Appeals on October 21, 2013, the Court issued an order granting the petition.