A release from the Supreme Court of Appeals, State of West Virginia says the Supreme Court Administrative Director has taken action against Judge Thornsbury and the Chief Justice has moved to appoint replacements.
Thirtieth Judicial (Mingo County) Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury turned himself in after an indictment was unsealed on Thursday. Thornsbury is facing charges of conspiring to violate the constitutional rights of a victim identified as “R.W.”
Supreme Court Administrative Director Steve Canterbury filed a complaint against Judge Thornsbury with the Judicial Investigation Commission in accordance with Rule 2.14 of the Rules of Judicial Disciplinary Procedure.
In anticipation of a recommendation from the the Judicial Investigation Commission regarding the future service of Judge Thornsbury in Mingo County, Chief Justice Brent D. Benjamin asked Senior Status Supreme Court Justice John L. Cummings of Cabell County to serve in Mingo County. Senior Status Supreme Court Justice Thomas E. McHugh will assist as needed to ensure abuse and neglect, domestic violence, juvenile and other emergency issues are handled without delay.
Both Judge Cummins and Justice McHugh have agreed and will begin work in Mingo County at 9 a.m. today.
The Disciplinary Counsel will conduct an investgiation and will present the Chief Justice with a report indicating whether, in the opinion of the Disciplinary Counsel, the integrity of the legal system has been placed into question. The judge will notified prior to the filing of the report.
Once the report is received, the Supreme Court will determine whether or not probable cause exists. If the determination is made that probable cause exists, the Court may:
- direct the Disciplinary Counsel to file formal charges with the Clerk of the Supreme Court; and,
- provide notice to the judge of a right to a hearing on the issue of temporary suspension (hearing to be held within 30 days); with the judge provided notice of the hearing in not less than 20 days before the proceeding; or
- in the alternative, remand the complaint for proceedings.
If the Court finds probable cause to believe that a judge has engaged in or is currently engaging in a serious violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, the Court may direct that the judge not hear any further civil or criminal matters or perform other judicial functions while the matter is pending, with or without pay.
After the hearing on the issue of suspension, the Court may temporarily suspend the judge with or without pay while the matter is pending before the Judicial Hearing Board and until the Court has disposed of the formal charges.