Loughry: Justice’s fall shows need for scrutiny

Former West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Allen Loughry has begun seeing the other side of the criminal justice system. Last Friday, he reported to a federal prison in South Carolina where he began serving a two-year sentence for misdeeds committed while in office.

Loughry was sentenced earlier this year after being found guilty of a menu of wrongdoing. He has appealed his case.

Since the scandal that took Loughry and another justice, Menis Ketchum, down last year, much has changed about our state’s highest court. Ketchum resigned, then pleaded guilty to using a state card and gasoline credit card for personal trips. Then, a third justice, Robin Davis, resigned as legislators were looking into her lavish spending practices. She was not charged with crimes.

The five-member court, then, has just two members who were sitting a year ago.

All five justices have pledged to make reforms intended to reduce the possibility of criminal behavior and control spending. It is clear they are serious and committed to rebuilding the trust West Virginians must have in our court system.

Word that Loughry has begun serving his prison sentence opens something of a new chapter in the court’s history.

Sadly, it also is a reminder that power sometimes does corrupt — and that ongoing scrutiny of government officials is a necessity here in the Mountain State.