WVCOURT: Allen Loughry Talks About His Campaign for West Virginia Supreme Court

By westvirginia on July 25, 2011
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By Steven Allen Adams

After working for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals for eight years, a storied career in state government, earning four law degrees, and literally writing the book on West Virginia political corruption, Allen Loughry has stepped up to run for a seat on the state’s highest court as an independent.

“I’m running because it’s time,” Loughry said Friday. “I think everything in my life has led to this point. I believe that the judiciary is critically important to people’s lives. The court makes decisions on a daily basis that affect people’s lives very personally. I believe I’ll do a good job at the court on behalf of the people of the state.”

Loughry has considerable experience in state government, working as a direct aide to former Gov. Gaston Caperton, a special assistant to a U.S. Rep. Harley Staggers (D-W.Va.) an assistant county prosecutor, a special prosecuting attorney, and a senior assistant attorney general. Loughry has worked as a judicial law clerk for the state Supreme Court for the last eight years, and also works as an adjunct professor at the University of Charleston.

“I’m glad that I didn’t run for something earlier in life because the life experiences that I’ve had have prepared me for this point for this position,” Loughry said. “All of these things combined will allow me to be a very good justice of the Supreme Court.”

“One of the things I did was argue cases in front of the Supreme Court,” Loughry said. “Anything that came from all the 55 county prosecutors that came to the Attorney General’s office regarding particular criminal matters I would then make arguments on behalf of the state that would have to do with upholding the sentences of murderers, rapists, people who have committed sexual abuse, people who have committed arson – anything that you can think of. I have what I think is tremendous real-world experience just from that.”

Loughry, while working full time, earned four law degrees. He earned a bachelors from West Virginia University, a degree from the Capital University School of Law, a Master of Laws in Law and Government and a Doctor of Juridical Science from American University’s Washington College of Law, and a Master of Laws in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of London. He also studied law at Oxford University in England.

“I don’t want people to say ‘this guys has been in school his entire life. Look at all of this. He has too much education.’ I completely disagree with that,” Loughry said. “The one law degree and next three post-doctorate degrees I obtained while I was working full-time in the legal profession. I don’t want people to come back and think this is someone who has gone to school forever. That’s not the case. But I don’t apologize for the degrees. I’m very proud of the degrees. They’ve helped me to think in some very different ways.”

Loughry explained the each degree brought with it different ways to think, focusing on research and writing, and looking at how laws have evolved .

“Everyday with each one of these degrees I realize how much I don’t know and I just want to continue to learn,” Loughry Said. “If somebody thinks they know everything, obviously they don’t know that much.”

Loughry is running as an independent despite a long career working for prominent Democrats in the state. This is because he believes that court needs to be a place devoid of partisan politics as usual.

“I believe that people, for the most part, want their governors and their legislators and their presidential candidates to be Democrats or Republicans, because people want the executive and legislative branch members to argue and fight for their philosophical viewpoints,” Loughry said. “But at the end of the day people want their judges to be honest and fair and independent. My hope is this campaign will change the way that we elect our judiciary in West Virginia. Independent means independent thinking; it’s not a third party.”

Loughry also supports an intermediate appellate court, though he says the Revised Rules of Appellate Procedure, adopted Dec. 1, 2010, have greatly improved the high court’s reputation.

“With the passage of the new rules I think the court has done an an enormous amount of work in addressing the concerns of people on all sides of the aisle,” Loughry said. “I think it’s working right now, and time will tell if that system needs to be tweaked or down the road an intermediate appellate court is still needed.”

Loughry’s motivation to change the judicial system stems from a book he wrote five years ago that continues to impact West Virginia politics. In 2006 Loughry published “Don’t Buy Another Vote, I Won’t Pay for a Landslide.” The work started off as a college dissertation, but grew into a book, involving 10 years of research, chronicling abuse of political power at all levels of state government dating back to the founding of the state.

I’m proud of the book,” Loughry said. “I think it’s made a difference, but we still have far to go. People are frustrated. Regardless of party affiliation, people feel very disenfranchised, they feel frustrated, they feel jaded, let down. They feel helpless. There is a tremendous fear out there from people who want to stand up and they want to see things change, but they’re afraid of the consequences if they stand up alone and do something.”

“Prior to me publishing this book I was told by an individual that I would be destroyed both personally and professionally if I publish this book,” added Loughry. “It’s been five years later and I’m still standing. This will be an opportunity, I’m sure, for people to try to tarnish my reputation and do and say whatever. But I’m going to get out and run one of the largest grassroots campaigns the state has ever seen. It’s going to be about honesty, integrity, and accountability.”

The state Supreme Court has two seats up for grabs in 2012. Former West Virginia Bar Association President Tish Chafin, a Democrat, and former state Sen. John Yoder, a Republican, have announced their candidacies. Current Justice Robin Jean Davis, a Democrat, is running for reelection, while Justice Thomas McHugh is retiring at the end of his term. Loughery is determined to win one of those seats.

“This election, in many ways, is for those students, it’s for my son, it’s for any average West Virginian out there to let them know that they can still participate in the process,” Loughry said.

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