Photo of of Judge Michael Thornsbury by Pamela Scott Johnson for the Williamson Daily News accompanied her story 1/23/09 story, "Mingo judge recused from county case."
I first published this post on 5/21/13 at 11:23 PM and last updated it on 5/23/13 at 3:11 PM, after adding the photo and fixing formatting. The indictment finally got issued on August 14 and filed on Agust 15, 2013. I wrote an update here.
Mingo County, West Virginia only has one Circuit Court Judge, Michael Thornsbury. Kallie Cart (email, twitter) broke the story last night on WCHS TV in Charleston that Thornsbury--along with one of the county commissioners, David Baisden--is under investigation. She reports that the FBI and WV State Police, working with US Attorney's office, are looking at alleged election violations and other possible federal crimes.
We were in Mingo County on Monday and learned that a federal grand jury recently met and that indictments are expected soon. Eyewitness News reached out to both of the men, but our messages were not returned.
Ironic, that Thornsbury is under a cloud again
When Thornsbury was a Williamson attorney running for the first time for the WV House of Delegates, he told the AP's Martha Bryson Hodel ("Election Brings New Candidates To Corruption-Plagued Mingo County", for her 5/9/88):
It's up to the people this time....They can choose the old way, or they can take the best opportunity they've had to vote good, honest candidates into office.
Back then, Hodel reported that,
According to the indictments, much of [the 15,000 or $20,000 required to run for office in the past] went to buy votes for politicians who in turn used their positions to protect friends and family engaged in other illegal activities.
Drug corruption was also rife. Tennis Hatfield, a former radio announcer running to replace the Sheriff told Hodel,
They were doing more business than the K-mart....When you can put up a sign on the building that says 'Out Of Drugs, Back In 30 Minutes,' there's something more wrong than usual.
Sadly, Mingo still has problems with drugs, It made national news last month for this murder of an anti-drug sheriff Eugene Crum, whose widow, Rosie, is now filling his term. Oddly (to me, at least), 2nd amendment conspiracists are spreading stories via blogs that Crum was murdered not due to his war on drugs, but because he stood up for gun rights.
This is not the first time Thornsbury has made the news
Thornbury's refused to recuse himself in suit against against Massey Energy and its subsidiary Rawls Sales and Processing for slurry-poisoned well water (Mingo Circuit Court case number 08-C-69).
Justin Anderson wrote about the case for the West Virginia Record July, 24, 2009. Ken Ward published the Plaintiff's motion for disqualification of Thornsbury at his Coal Tattoo blog post at the Gazette for August 19, 2009, after Supreme Court Judge Robin Davis ordered his recusal. (She later transferred the case to the Mass Litigation Panel on 4/28/10.)
That refusal made him a cautionary tale for Shira Goodman, writing for a campaign against judicial corruption in Pennsylvania. She referring to Paul Nyden's reporting for the Charleston Gazette ("Hundreds to travel to Charleston for coal slurry lawsuit," November 13, 2010.)
Filmmaker Mari-lyn Evans reminded readers on facebook today of
close ties between Mingo County Judge Thornberry and [deposed Massey CEO Don Blankenship...Judge Thornberry was... seen at Starters restaurant in Williamson with Don Blankenship much like Blankenship was seen with WV... Justice [Spike Maynard in Monaco]... France on holiday while [the Caperton suit] was before that court.Thornsbury had accused his accuser of holding a grudge because of prior litigation. Less colorful, perhaps, but important to Davis in ordering the recusal: the possible perceived conflict of interest: in 1985, while an attorney, Thornsbury represented Rawl Sales in a case which included expert testimony on the effects of blasting on underground geology.
Cart told viewers the station had confirmed its Thornsbury story "through multiple sources."
When I contacted Cart via twitter this afternoon, she indicated that the Judge cancelled court today so she hadn't been able to talk to him, but that she hoped to update the story soon.
No one else in West Virginia has been reporting the story yet, although some residents are discussing Cart's report on TOPIX. That's another irony, given Thornsbury doesn't much like the website, as reported by Rachel Dove Baldwin "Topix becomes matter of concern for judicial system," Williamson Daily News, 10/3/2012.)
The U.S. Congress needs to adopt stricter laws to govern sites like these, or shut them down completely.
Actually Judge Thornsbury doesn't much like The Charleston Gazette either, He sued the paper in 2010, as reported by Chris Dickerson, then editor of The West Virginia Record ("Judge sues Gazette, Mingo sheriff for ‘libelous’ article," 4/15/10).