A West Virginia Supreme Court justice who was appointed to the bench following a corruption and impeachment scandal in 2018 announced on Thursday that he will retire at the conclusion of his term in the following year.
Governor Jim Justice appointed Justice John Hutchison to the seat vacated by convicted former Justice Allen Loughry and subsequently won a special election in 2020 to complete the remainder of Loughry’s term, which expires in December 2024.
Hutchison expressed excitement about spending time with his wife, son, and grandchildren.
“When I came to the Court in January 2019, the judicial system was beginning to emerge from a very dark place,” Hutchison said to Chief Justice Beth Walker in a letter. “In the last five years, the New Court has made incredible strides in restoring the third branch of government’s integrity.”
Hutchison was a circuit judge in Raleigh County for 24 years before being appointed to the five-member Supreme Court. He and Justice were teammates on the basketball team at Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley. In January 2017, Hutchison was sworn in as governor.
Loughry was removed from office after charges that he lied frequently and used his position for personal advantage. He resigned after a federal jury convicted him on 11 charges, the majority of which involved mail and wire fraud related to his personal use of state vehicles and gasoline cards. After spending 20 months of a two-year sentence, he was freed in December 2020.
Loughry and three other judges were impeached in August 2018 on allegations of corruption, incompetence, and neglect of duty stemming from expensive office renovations. Some justices have been accused of abusing their power by neglecting to rein in excessive spending.
One justice stepped down after the House of Delegates authorized impeachment charges against her, and another stepped down before the impeachment hearings began.
Walker was found not guilty of impeachment during her Senate trial. Then, a temporary panel of justices determined that the impeachment proceedings violated the theory of separation of powers and that the Legislature lacked jurisdiction to prosecute the trials. The United States Supreme Court upheld the verdict in October 2019.